Health A-Z

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Although rash is easily recognized, all rashes are not the same. Rashes vary in their appearance, timing, location or distribution, and duration. In general, rashes can be described as:

  • Macular Flat, red spots

  • Papular Small, raised, solid bumps

  • Macular and papular A combination

  • Papulosquamous A combination of papules and scaly areas

  • Vesicular Small, raised, fluid-filled blisters

Additional signs and symptoms that sometimes accompany rashes include:

  • Fever

  • Swollen lymph nodes (swollen glands)

  • Signs of a severe allergic, potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis, which requires immediate emergency medical attention: difficulty breathing, hives, vomiting, abdominal cramps, rapid drop in blood pressure, confusion and unconsciousness

  • Signs of an autoimmune disorder, such as lupus (may include fatigue, poor appetite, fever, joint swelling) or dermatomyositis (often includes weak muscles, swelling and violet discoloration of the eyelids and difficulty rising after sitting)

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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