Dangerous Skin Rashes

Q: How can I tell if a skin rash is dangerous, or a sign of a dangerous condition?

If your rash is accompanied with fever or chills, you should see a physician. It may be something as simple as a 24-hour virus, or it could indicate something more serious. There are a number of dangerous conditions that are urgent, and then there are some serious skin conditions that are not necessarily urgent. This distinction may not be easy for a patient to make, so it is necessary to see a physician.

Some signs and symptoms that may indicate that a rash is dangerous include:

  • Feeling ill
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches or pains
  • Presence of blisters

Purple marks on the skin that do not blanch on pressure (ie, when you put pressure on the area with your thumb and then release, the marks do not fade) may be a sign of inflammation of the blood vessels. Purple marks that do not blanch may fall into one of two categories, known as of purpura and petechiae.

If platelets and other clotting functions are not working properly, it could indicate a serious situation and manifest as skin with purple, pinpoint dots that do not blanch with pressure. Finally, if you have irregular spots that have changed over a relatively short period of time, a serious underlying systemic condition should be suspected.

If your rash is accompanied by any of the above-mentioned symptoms, please seek medical help as soon as possible.

Dr. Lowell Goldsmith and Dr. Jeff Bernhard contributed their expertise on behalf of VisualDx for the above information.


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Published on 11/25/2009 | Last updated on 01/05/2017