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Life-Threatening Skin Rashes (cont.)

What Are Symptoms and Signs of Other Life-Threatening Skin Rashes?

  • Toxic shock syndrome (TSS)
    • TSS occurs in teens to young adults 15-34 years of age.
    • Two-thirds of people with TSS are younger than 25 years of age.
    • Four out of five are female.
    • Symptoms begin up to two days before the onset of skin rash and include fever greater than 102 F, sore throat, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
    • TSS may involve the mucous membranes with red, irritated eyes, and a beefy-red tongue.
    • Dizziness or a lightheaded feeling when standing up is also common.
    • Joints and eyelids also may swell.
    • A diffuse red rash then rapidly appears that may cover most or all of the body.
    • If you press on the red areas of skin, the skin will blanch, or turn white. Releasing pressure will cause the redness to return.
    • The skin remains flat with no raised areas, bumps, or blisters.
    • Other organ systems also are affected by TSS, and TSS may lead to kidney, liver, respiratory, and heart failure. The brain may also be involved leading to confusion or disorientation.
    • Shock occurs when the cardiovascular system is unable to maintain blood pressure, leading to dizziness or lightheadedness when standing.
    • The rash will usually disappear in about three to five days.
    • During recovery, after the rash is gone, skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet begins to flake and peel off. In severe cases, fingernails, toenails, and hair may fall out. Other areas of skin may also begin to flake and peel.
  • Meningococcemia
    • Within two weeks of exposure, patients become acutely ill with fever, low blood pressure, multiple organ failure, and a purple non-blanchable (unaffected by manual pressure) rash (purpura) often affecting the extremities. The rash represents blood that has leaked out of small vessels in the skin.
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
    • Usually, there is fever and headache, severe muscle aches, and headache three to 12 days after the bite of an infected tick. A rash, which usually begins on the extremities and progresses to involve the torso, develops in a majority those affected within two to four days after the onset of fever.
    • The rash appears as pink bumps, but within a few days, many pinpoint reddish dots appear from blood leakage from capillaries in the skin.
  • Necrotizing fasciitis
    • Necrotizing fasciitis is an infection that begins at a site of trivial or even unapparent trauma or in an operative incision. The initial lesion may appear only as an area of mild erythema but undergoes a rapid evolution over the next 24-72 hours. The inflammation becomes more pronounced and extensive, the skin becomes dusky and then purplish, and bullae containing yellow or hemorrhagic fluid appear. There is severe pain associated with fever. This can require aggressive interventions, including surgical operations.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/20/2016

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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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