Symptoms and Signs of Life-Threatening Skin Rashes
Dangerous Skin Rashes

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/30/2019

Doctor's Notes on Life-Threatening Skin Rashes
Dangerous Skin Rashes

Most skin rashes are not dangerous. However, there are some potentially life-threatening serious conditions that have a skin rash as a primary sign. These conditions include pemphigus vulgaris (PV), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN, also known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome or erythema multiforme major (EM)), drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS) syndrome, toxic shock syndrome (TSS), meningococcal infections, necrotizing fasciitis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF).

Conditions that cause life-threatening skin rashes usually have other associated symptoms and signs in addition to the skin rash. These symptoms depend on the cause of the condition and can include itching or burning skin, blistering, fever, weakness, muscle aches, sore throat, headache, nausea, vomiting, redness and warmth of the skin, and red spots in the mouth or eyes.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.