Rash with Fever

If you have a rash without fever, see chart 9

If you or your child has a temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above, you should check whether a rash is also present. A rash with fever is usually caused by a viral infection. Most viral infections are not serious. However, a rash may alert you to the possibility of potentially life-threatening meningitis.

  • What are the features of the rash?

    • Widespread itchy, blistery rash
      • Possible cause Chickenpox is a possible cause of this type of rash with fever.

        Medical help See your doctor within 24 hours. Meanwhile, follow the advice for bringing down a fever.

    • A rash that spreads out from a central red spot
      • Possible cause There is a possibility that you have Lyme disease.

        Medical help See your doctor within 24 hours. Meanwhile, follow the advice for bringing down a fever.

    • Flat, dark red spots that do not fade when pressed

      Do you have any of the following symptoms?

      • Severe headache
        • Possible cause Meningitis could be a cause of your symptoms.

          Medical help EMERGENCY! Dial 999/112 and ask for an ambulance.

      • Drowsiness or confusion
        • Possible cause Meningitis could be a cause of your symptoms.

          Medical help EMERGENCY! Dial 999/112 and ask for an ambulance.

      • Dislike of bright light
        • Possible cause Meningitis could be a cause of your symptoms.

          Medical help EMERGENCY! Dial 999/112 and ask for an ambulance.

      • Neck pain on bending the head forwards
        • Possible cause Meningitis could be a cause of your symptoms.

          Medical help EMERGENCY! Dial 999/112 and ask for an ambulance.

      • Nausea or vomiting
        • Possible cause Meningitis could be a cause of your symptoms.

          Medical help EMERGENCY! Dial 999/112 and ask for an ambulance.

      • None of the above
        • Possible cause This type of rash may be due to a severe allergic reaction, such as a reaction to penicillin (see Drug allergy). It may also be the result of a blood disorder, such as thrombocytopenia or, in children, Henoch–Schönlein purpura.

          Medical help URGENT! Phone your doctor immediately!

    • Dull red spots or blotches that fade when pressed

      Have you noticed any of the following symptoms in the past few days?

      • Runny nose
        • If you cannot identify a possible cause for your rash and fever from this chart, see your doctor within 24 hours.

      • Cough
        • If you cannot identify a possible cause for your rash and fever from this chart, see your doctor within 24 hours.

      • Red eyes
        • If you cannot identify a possible cause for your rash and fever from this chart, see your doctor within 24 hours.

      • None of the above

        Do you have a severe sore throat?

        • Yes
        • No
          • If you cannot identify a possible cause for your rash and fever from this chart, see your doctor within 24 hours.

    • Bright red rash, particularly affecting the cheeks
      • Possible cause Fifth disease may be the cause of such a rash and other symptoms in a young child.

        Medical help See your doctor within 24 hours. Meanwhile, follow the advice for bringing down a fever.

    • Light red or pink rash mainly on the trunk and/or face
      • Possible cause Rubella, also known as German measles, may be the cause of these symptoms. Roseola infantum, which mainly affects infants under 4 years, is another possibility, particularly if the rash was preceded by fever.

        Medical help See your doctor within 24 hours to confirm the diagnosis. Meanwhile, follow the advice for bringing down a fever.

    • None of the above
      • If you cannot identify a possible cause for your rash and fever from this chart, see your doctor within 24 hours.

Dial 999/112 and ask for an ambulance if a rash and fever are accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • Dislike of bright light.
  • Pain in the neck on bending the head forward.
  • Seizures.
  • Temperature of 39°C (102°F) or above.
  • Noisy or difficult breathing.
  • Severe headache.

Checking a red rash

If you develop a dark red rash, check if it fades on pressure by pressing the side of a drinking glass on to it. If the rash is visible through the glass, it may be a form of purpura, a rash caused by bleeding from tiny blood vessels in the skin. Purpura can be caused by one of several serious disorders and needs prompt medical attention. You should call an ambulance if you have a high fever, severe headache, or any other danger sign (Rash with fever).

Checking a rash

In this example, the rash has faded under the glass – a sign that the rash is not purpura.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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