When Is a Rash an Emergency?

It isn’t always easy to determine when a dermatological condition warrants a trip to the Emergency Room. Most skin rashes are fairly harmless, even if they can be unpleasant. But occasionally, a skin rash may indicate a serious medical condition, such as a severe allergic reaction or blood poisoning caused by meningitis. The Emergency Room physicians at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center respond swiftly to all types of medical emergencies.

Allergic Reaction
Some allergies that cause skin reactions only result in minor problems, while others can be life-threatening. If a skin rash starts suddenly and spreads quickly to areas all over your body, it could be caused by a serious allergic reaction . Patients will need to be evaluated at the Emergency Room if they have additional signs of an allergic reaction, including difficulty breathing, facial swelling, dizziness, loss of consciousness, or shortness of breath.

If a skin rash is accompanied by a fever, it could be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. An Emergency Room physician can evaluate the patient for infections such as measles, scarlet fever, and mononucleosis. Shingles—a disease that primarily affects adults—can also cause fever, a blistering rash, burning, and pain.

Localized Infection
Some skin rashes might not be serious initially, but can later become cause for concern. If the rash is itchy, a patient may scratch it and break the skin. This leaves the area susceptible to a localized infection, which may be indicated by worsening redness, swelling, pain, and tenderness. An infection can cause an abnormal discharge from the area. An Emergency Room doctor can clean the wound and may prescribe antibiotics for bacterial infections.

Blood Poisoning
Meningitis can be life-threatening. It is an infection of the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Some patients with meningitis may develop blood poisoning, which can cause a skin rash. Meningitis and blood poisoning both require emergency care. The defining characteristic of these skin rashes is their failure to fade when a clear glass is pressed firmly into the skin.

For all of your family’s medical concerns, you can put your trust in Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center . Our Emergency Room doctors and family physicians are committed to maintaining the highest standards of patient care and safety. Patients in the Thousand Oaks area can speak with a registered nurse at our hospital by calling (877) 888-5746.