How to Know When Your Rash Needs Medical Attention

Feb 01, 2024
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It’s easy to think all rashes are alike, but they can happen for different reasons, some more serious than others. Knowing when to seek medical treatment could relieve your symptoms and prevent potential complications.

Skin rashes are common, but that doesn’t mean they’re not concerning — and it also doesn’t mean they don’t require medical attention. Knowing when to seek care for a rash can relieve symptoms and prevent serious complications.

Our team, at Southwest Michigan Dermatology, helps patients understand potential causes of rashes, providing treatments focused on restoring skin health and helping patients feel better. If you have a rash, here’s how to tell when to call our office and make an appointment.

The rash is interfering with sleep or other functions

If your rash is uncomfortable enough to make  sleeping difficult, if your clothing irritates it, or if it distracts you from other activities, seeing one of our providers can help relieve your symptoms to return to your routine.

The rash isn’t going away — or it’s getting worse

Most rashes clear up within a few days. If your rash persists or worsens, you need to see a Dermatologist to find out why.

It’s widely distributed or spreading quickly

A rash that covers a large area of your body could be a sign of a systemic problem that needs prompt medical treatment. Likewise, rashes that spread quickly indicate a rapidly developing problem requiring care. Widespread rashes can also lead to other symptoms, and medical treatment can help prevent those problems from developing.

The rash is painful, very itchy, or swollen

Some mild itchiness is common with many rashes, and a little tenderness may not be anything to worry about. But suppose your rash is painful or accompanied by intense itching or swelling. In that case, seeking medical attention immediately to rule out any serious underlying issues, including severe allergic reactions that could interfere with breathing, is essential. 

You have blisters

Rashes that develop blisters or open or weeping sores should also be evaluated medically. These rashes can indicate a severe allergic reaction, a reaction to medication, or an underlying medical issue that can quickly lead to complications.

It’s accompanied by fever, nausea, or fatigue

If your rash is accompanied by elevated body temperature, nausea, or fatigue, that could be a sign of an infection — and an indication that your rash needs to be evaluated immediately. The rash itself could be infected, or you might have an infection elsewhere that’s causing both the fever and the rash. Measles, shingles, and scarlet fever are all examples of infections accompanied by rashes.

The rash is infected

Speaking of infection, if your rash shows signs of infection — like swelling, crusting, pain, warmth, or pus discharge — immediate medical attention is required to prevent the infection from spreading to the rest of your body. Serious infections can quickly become life-threatening, and antibiotic therapy or other management is necessary to prevent complications.

Skin rashes aren’t always serious, but they’re never normal. If you have a rash, don’t leave it up to chance. Call  Southwest Michigan Dermatology at 269-321-7546 or request an appointment online today and learn how we can help.