Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
If a child has a fever and a red rash with some of the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome, call the doctor to discuss the possibility of toxic shock syndrome.
The most common causes of a fever and a rash in children are viruses and scarlet fever, which affect children younger than 10 years
of age. Scarlet fever is a form of strep throat that causes a sore throat and a raised (bumpy) rash, not the flat rash of toxic shock syndrome. Scarlet fever is not usually a serious illness, and it is safe to wait until morning to call and visit the doctor.
If a child has severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or all three, call the doctor to discuss the symptoms of dehydration.
If a high fever (over 102 F) is present without a rash, as well as some of the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome, call the doctor or go to an emergency department.
Many viral illnesses can cause fever and sore throat, cough, malaise, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle aches; most are self-limited illnesses and usually require no medical intervention.
When to go to the hospital
Children: Take a child to the pediatrician or the hospital's emergency department if he or she has a fever, has a flat (not bumpy) rash, is not acting normally, seems confused, is short of breath, or faints.
Adults: If fever is present with some of the toxic shock syndrome symptoms, along with a red rash, proceed to the hospital's emergency department for evaluation. Have someone else drive, especially if
the person is feeling lightheaded or confused. Women who are menstruating and using a tampon should remove the tampon prior to going to the hospital.