Skin Rashes: When to Seek Treatment

By Michelle Bate, FNP-C, DCNP

North Suburban Dermatology Associates

By adulthood, most people have experienced at least a rash or two. Rashes can be caused by several different underlying conditions, and symptoms can range in severity from mild redness to itchy or painful welts, or even a life-threatening emergency.

A rash can appear in many different ways—red skin, welts, blisters, or blotches; skin that is itchy, dry, warm to the touch, or scaly are all symptoms associated with rashes. A rash can appear in one area, or all over the body and may come and go or stay long-term.

While many rashes are not of serious concern, in some cases a rash can signify an underlying health issue or even a life-threatening medical emergency, so it’s important to know what to look for and when to schedule an appointment with us or seek emergency medical attention.

Several skin conditions including eczema, pityriasis rosea, psoriasis, intertrigo, and contact dermatitis cause rashes. In most cases, these conditions can be controlled and managed with proper diagnosis and treatment. Click here to learn more.

When to seek emergency care and medical treatment:

If you or your child has a rash with any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with us, or go to the emergency room immediately, as it may be caused by a life-threatening reaction.

  • A rash that appears suddenly and spreads rapidly. This could signify a serious allergic reaction that could be life-threatening. If breathing problems occur, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.
  • If you develop a fever with a rash, this could also be a sign of an allergic reaction or an infection. Infections such as shingles, measles, mononucleosis, or scarlet fever may cause rashes and may require emergency medical attention.
  • A rash that appears all over your body may also be indicative of something concerning such as an allergic reaction or an infection.
  • A painful rash requires treatment and should be addressed by our office quickly.
  • If a rash blisters or causes open sores on the skin, especially around the eyes, in or around your mouth, or on the genitals, seek medical attention. This too could be a sign of an allergic reaction to a food, medication, or supplement and can signify a medical emergency.
  • A rash can become infected by scratching. Signs of a rash that is infected can include swelling, pain, crusting, red streaks coming from the rash, warmth, and yellow or green fluid.

If life-threatening symptoms are not present in conjunction with a rash, we advise you to schedule an appointment with us so that we can determine the cause and develop a customized treatment plan.

Michelle Bate, FNP-C, DCNP

Michelle Bate is a Family Nurse Practitioner, certified in dermatology, and sees patients at North Suburban Dermatology Associates in Gurnee, IL. Michelle received both her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, as well as her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has experience in emergency medicine, as well as being a helicopter flight nurse. She is certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and a Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner.

Michelle brings years of dermatology experience to our practice. Prior to starting with us in 2023, Michelle practiced as a nurse practitioner at a private dermatology practice in the northwest suburbs for 11 years.

She specializes in medical dermatology for all ages including children and the elderly, as well as cosmetic and surgical dermatology.

Michelle resides in the northwest suburbs with her two sons, dogs, and cats. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, kayaking, biking, and all things outdoors.