Skin rash is the most common allergic symptom that dermatologists come across. While it is common to ignore a skin rash as a common symptom of any allergy, some of them should not be ignored as they can be life-threatening and require immediate medical help. Some of the common conditions which can produce life-threatening rashes are listed below.
- Pemphigus vulgaris
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) or toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) or erythema multiforme (EM) major
- Necrotizing fasciitis
- Toxic shock syndrome (TSS)
- Rocky mountain spotted fever
Some of the common symptoms are as follows:
- These affect the whole body or most parts of it.
- The skin and the mucous membranes are affected (mouth, nose, anus, vagina, and urethra).
- Most of these conditions are accompanied by blisters, which vary in size from about 1 cm to really large ones.
- When they break open, there is fluid within these blisters.
- Blisters on the mucous membranes can be extremely painful.
Understanding the types in detail
- Pemphigus vulgaris: This is an autoimmune condition wherein the tissues that hold the epidermal layers of the skin are affected. The body reacts against these tissues and so the skin is affected.
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis or Stevens-Johnson syndrome: Though the aetiology is not very clear, this severe allergic reaction is seen due to several medications and infections. Medications like sulfa-containing antibiotics, penicillin-containing antibiotics, anti-HIV medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) and anti-seizure medications can cause this reaction. Also, infections like hepatitis, cytomegalovirus and some bacterial infections are also shown to produce this reaction. There is severe necrosis or damage of the underlying connective tissue, causing severe damage to the skin and rashes with blisters, which are bluish and filled with fluid. They appear as crops bilaterally on the feet, chest, hands, abdomen and back.
- Toxic shock syndrome: Staphylococcus is one of the most common bacteria that causes various infections in the body; it can also induce large scale tissue damage, which can give rise to toxic shock syndrome. As a result of the infection, toxins are released causing severe organ and tissue damage. When tampons were introduced, this became a public health issue in the 1970s. Other symptoms of shock, including dehydration and severe sepsis, were also seen in such patients.
- Necrotizing fasciitis: A trauma or operative incision can cause severe erythema, and in the next 24 to 72 hours this can develop into huge rashes with haemorrhagic fluid, which can be very painful.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF): Caused by a tick bite, this infection produces a rash that starts in the extremities and gradually spreads to the torso. The rashes are pink in colour with blood leaking from the capillaries. Immediate medical attention is required is such cases in order to prevent haemorrhages. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!