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Life-Threatening Skin Rashes
Dangerous Skin Rashes

Life-Threatening Skin Rashes Facts

Rash is a nonspecific term that refers to any visible inflammation of the skin. Most rashes are not dangerous and are self-limited. Life-threatening skin rashes are rare, but when they do occur, medical assistance is absolutely necessary.

Potentially life-threatening disorders that have a skin rash as a primary sign are

  1. pemphigus vulgaris (PV),
  2. toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), also known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) or erythema multiforme major (EM),
  3. drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS) syndrome,
  4. toxic shock syndrome (TSS),
  5. meningococcemia,
  6. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and
  7. necrotizing fasciitis.

These conditions produce a rash that may involve large portions of the skin surface. Usually, there are a variety of other significant symptoms and signs that accompany the rash and help to distinguish the cause.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/20/2016

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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Life-Threatening Skin Rashes:

Life-Threatening Skin Rashes - Treatment

What treatment did you receive for your life-threatening skin rash?

Life-Threatening Skin Rashes - Causes

What caused your life-threatening skin rash?

Ticks infected with R. rickettsii transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans via a bite.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Symptoms & Signs

Children that get infected tick bites may not communicate this important fact to their parents or doctor; likewise, many adults do not remember or even notice getting a tick bite. The classic symptoms of RMSF are a tick bite followed by fever and a rash. If the patient does not exhibit all three symptoms, the diagnosis frequently either is not correct or is delayed. A delayed diagnosis may allow time for severe symptoms to develop. Severe symptoms of RMSF are thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets that can lead to internal bleeding), hyponatremia (low sodium), meningismus (a condition of neck stiffness, headache, and possible fever suggesting brain membrane irritation), confusion, blindness, or coma that can result in death.


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis »

Described in 1956 by Alan Lyell, toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) is a life-threatening skin disorder that is commonly drug-induced.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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