Rash or Redness - Widespread
Is this your symptom?
- Rash over most of the body (widespread)
- Sometimes just on hands, feet, and buttocks - but symmetrical
- Small spots, large spots, or solid red
- Cause of rash is unknown
- Widespread rashes that people may know are: hives, insect bites, and sunburn. If that is the problem, use that Care Guide. If not, use this Care Guide.
- Many causes of widespread rashes are not serious. Causes include allergic reactions and viruses, like the common cold.
- Adults with fevers and rashes should talk to their doctor right away. It could be a sign of a serious infection.
When to Call for Rash or Redness - Widespread
Call 911 Now
- Very weak (can't stand)
- Purple or blood-colored rash with fever
- Rash started quickly within the past 2 hours and trouble breathing or swallowing
- Trouble waking up or acting confused
- Life-threatening reaction in the past to the same thing (food, insect bite/sting, chemical) and less than 2 hours since exposed
- You think you have a life-threatening emergency
Call Doctor or Seek Care Now
- Purple or blood-colored rash (without fever)
- Rash looks like blisters (fluid-filled bubbles or sacs on the skin)
- Rash began within 4 hours of taking a new prescription drug
- Stiff neck (can't touch chin to the chest)
- Joint pain or swelling
- Sores in the mouth
- You feel weak or very sick
- You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent
Call Doctor Within 24 Hours
- You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent
Call Doctor During Office Hours
- A widespread rash, but none of the problems described above
- You have other questions or concerns
Care Advice for Widespread Rashes
- What You Should Know:
- Many causes of widespread rashes are not serious.
- Causes include viruses like a cold. Allergic reactions to a food, drug, plant, or insect bite can also cause rashes.
- You can treat most widespread rashes at home.
- Here is some care advice that should help.
- For Non-Itchy Rashes:
- No treatment is needed, except for heat rashes.
- A heat rash can be treated with a cool bath or shower.
- For Itchy Rashes:
- Wash the skin once with gentle, unscented soap to remove any irritants. Rinse the soap off.
- You may also take an oatmeal (Aveeno) bath to help with the itching. You can also take an antihistamine.
Oatmeal Bath for Itching: Sprinkle contents of one Aveeno packet under warm running water. Bathe for 15 to 20 minutes. Do this 1 to 2 times a day. Pat dry with a towel. Try not to rub.
- Antihistamine Drugs for Itching: Take an antihistamine to help with the itching. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is a good choice. It is sold over-the-counter (OTC). The adult dose is 25-50 mg. You can take it up to 4 times a day.
- Do not take these drugs if you have an enlarged prostate.
- They may make you feel tired. Do not drink alcohol, drive, or use dangerous machinery while taking antihistamines.
- An OTC antihistamine that causes less sleepiness is loratadine (Alavert or Claritin).
- Read all package instructions.
How It Is Spread: Avoid contact with pregnant women until you see a doctor. Most viral rashes can be spread. If you also have a fever, the rash is more likely to spread. Return to school or work after the rash is gone or your doctor says that you can.
What to Expect: Most viral rashes go away within 48 hours.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- You think you need to be seen
- You get worse
And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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