When Is a Rash a Reason to Worry?

When Is a Rash a Reason to Worry?

Itchy, bumpy, red, burning, swollen, raised, patchy — whatever word you use to describe your skin condition, you have a rash. This is your skin’s way of telling you that something has irritated it, or it’s allergic to something. 

Rashes can pop up anywhere on your body as a reaction to stress, the weather, an external substance, medicine, or food. Rashes can also be a symptom of certain health conditions, so it’s best not to ignore them. 

To find out what’s causing your rash, see our team of specialists at Easton Dermatology Associates in Easton, Stevensville, and Salisbury, Maryland. We can get to the bottom of your rash, treat it so it goes away quickly, and give you tips about how to avoid future rashes.

Meanwhile, here are some signs to watch for that indicate your rash needs professional help.

Spreading rash

Most rashes caused by a skin irritant stay localized in the area that came into contact with the substance. For example, if you rub lotion on your hands, and the fragrance irritates your skin, only your hands will get a rash.

If your rash spreads over a wider area, it could be an indication that the irritant is systemic, and you need medical care. If the rash is spreading quickly, seek urgent care.

Painful rashes

Rashes often come with a certain measure of discomfort, depending on the cause, but outright pain isn’t typical. If you have a painful rash, it may be a sign of infection or an illness, such as shingles.

Rash plus fever

Fever is your body’s way of fighting off infection, whether that infection is a bacterium or a virus circulating through your bloodstream or hiding just under the surface of your skin. If your rash is accompanied by a fever, it may be a sign that you’re dealing with measles, herpes, mononucleosis, or even scarlet fever. 

Infected rashes

Fever isn’t the only symptom of an infected rash. Other warning signs include swelling, pain, green or yellow discharge, crusty bumps, foul odor, and skin that feels warm to the touch.

Purple rashes

Purple rashes occur when your blood vessels aren’t working well. A network of purplish veins may indicate venous insufficiency, vasculitis, or Henoch-Schönlein purpura, a condition that affects the blood vessels and mucous membranes. 

Rash plus shortness of breath

Any time you have trouble breathing, it’s cause for concern and a call to 911. A rash coupled with breathing problems is usually a sign of a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. It may also come with a high fever, dizziness, and nausea.

Blistery rashes

Rashes generally include raised bumps, but when blisters appear, it puts you at risk for infection when they break. Severe sunburns that blister or poison ivy that blisters and oozes can benefit from a visit to our office to ensure they heal properly.

Circular rashes

When rashes develop in a distinct circular shape, it typically means you’ve been bitten by an insect. If the rash grows or develops a red line, seek medical attention.

A circular rash with a bullseye in the middle may mean you’ve been bitten by a tick and might have developed Lyme disease. Again, seek medical attention.

Rashes with swelling and discoloration

Some bug bites lead to inflammation and bruising, which is a serious red flag. This may indicate that the insect’s venom has blocked the blood flow in the area. 

Any rash that bothers you for a week or more or exhibits any of the signs we mentioned warrants a trip to Easton Dermatology Associates. We examine your skin thoroughly and get to the bottom of the problem, so you can get rid of the itchy, burning, irritated, rashy skin and keep it at bay in the future.

To schedule an evaluation of your rash, give us a call at any of our three locations today. 

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