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Rash 101 in Adults: When to seek medical help

Posted: January 2nd, 2018

To the inexperienced eye, the majority of rashes may look similar and seem easily treatable with over-the-counter oral antihistamines or hydrocortisone cream. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Rashes may appear as spots, bumps or blisters and can be red, scabby, itchy, or dry. They can appear in a specific area of skin or can cover the entire body. In addition, some rashes may show up and leave, while others never seem to clear up.
The majority of rashes are not dangerous, but some rashes can be a warning to a more serious condition. If you have a rash and experience any of the following symptoms, see a board-certified dermatologist or seek emergency care:
The rash has spread to your entire body: A body covering rash could be an infection or allergic reaction.
A fever accompanies the rash: If this happens, seek emergency care. This could be caused by an allergic reaction or an infection such as scarlet fever, measles, mononucleosis, and shingles.
The rash appears suddenly and spreads quickly: This could be the cause of an allergy. Medication allergies are common, and some can be severe. If you have trouble breathing, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
The rash causes blisters: If your rash consists of blisters or turns into open sores, it could be the result of an allergic reaction, a reaction to medication, or an internal cause. Seek medical help if a blistering rash affects the skin around your eyes, several areas in your mouth or your genitals.
The rash is painful: Painful rashes should be looked at by a physician.
The rash is infected: If your rash is itchy and causes you to scratch, it could become infected. Signs of an infected rash are yellow or green fluid, swelling, crusting, pain and warm skin in the area of the rash, or a red streak coming from the rash.
Rashes may appear in many forms and, depending on what caused them, take days or weeks to heal. Instead of treating the rash on your own, see a board-certified dermatologist for the correct diagnosis and best treatment. If you need to make an appointment at our office, please call 270-685-5777.
Source: American Academy of Dermatology