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Life-Threatening Skin Rashes (cont.)

What Are Treatments for a Skin Rash?

Patient Comments

Treatment for all of these disorders involves a hospital stay.

  • Admission to the hospital is the rule, and you may require admission to an intensive-care unit for closer monitoring.
  • Blistering that involves large portions of the body is treated as a thermal burn. This can mean admission to a specialized intensive-care burn unit. Not all hospitals have a burn unit, so you may need to be transported to an appropriate medical center for care.
  • The fluid losses through the skin and from decreased drinking that happen in these disorders cause dehydration.
    • This dehydration is treated with IV fluids.
    • One or two IV catheters will be placed in a vein, usually in the arms, for fluids and medicines as needed.
  • Blood samples will be analyzed for signs of infection and electrolyte imbalances. IV fluids and electrolytes will be adjusted to normalize any electrolyte imbalance.
  • Pemphigus vulgaris
    • Doctors try to suppress the body's immune system (to stop it from attacking itself) and stop the progression of PV with IV corticosteroids.
    • Blisters are treated like thermal burns and are very susceptible to infection. Antibiotic creams and sterile bandages that are changed frequently are used to prevent infection.
    • When blistered areas become infected, IV antibiotics are used, but they are not used to prevent infection.
    • Oral blisters are treated with mouthwashes and rinses with numbing medicine for pain relief.
  • Toxic epidermal necrolysis
    • Doctors try to suppress the body's immune system (to stop it from attacking itself) and stop the progression.
    • Drying solution, such as Burow's solution, and sterile bandages are applied.
    • When blistered areas become infected, IV antibiotics are used, but they are not used to prevent infection.
    • Oral blisters are treated with mouthwashes and rinses with numbing medicine for pain relief.
    • An eye specialist monitors eye involvement. He or she may prescribe steroid and antibiotic eyedrops or ointments to be given while you are in the hospital.
    • Discontinue any medications that may be causing the disease.
    • Treatment of TEN must always be in an intensive-care unit or specialized intensive-care burn unit.
    • Using IV corticosteroids has not proven to help TEN, so they are not routinely used.
    • Raw areas of skin are covered with petrolatum gauze and sterile bandages that are changed frequently to help keep further fluid losses from happening through the skin.
    • When blistered areas become infected, IV antibiotics are used, but they are not used to prevent infection.
    • Oral blisters are treated with mouthwashes and rinses with numbing medicine for pain relief.
    • An eye specialist monitors eye involvement. He or she may prescribe steroid and antibiotic eyedrops or ointments to be given while you are in the hospital.
    • Discontinue any medications that may be causing the disease.
  • Toxic shock syndrome
    • Large amounts of IV fluids may be required to treat the low blood pressure found in TSS.
    • Special medications may also be given continuously through an IV catheter to help increase blood pressure if fluids alone cannot raise blood pressure to adequate levels.
    • IV antibiotics are given immediately if TSS is suspected.
    • The underlying source of infection (that is, the tampon, nasal packing, wound infection, or other source) must be identified and removed.
  • Meningococcemia
    • Treatment with the appropriate antibiotic is of major importance. If there is evidence of extensive tissue necrosis of the purplish extremity, then surgical treatment may be necessary.
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
    • Treatment with doxycycline is usually begun prior to the confirmation of the diagnosis. The rash requires no specific treatment and will resolve along with the disease.
  • Necrotizing fasciitis
    • If this diagnosis is suspected, an immediate surgical consultation is necessary to remove devitalized infected skin, fat, and muscle.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/20/2016

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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?


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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