A generalized rash is widespread and covers most of the
body or is found on several parts of the body. It may appear in the same place
on both hands, feet, arms, or legs.
Generalized rashes without
other symptoms are usually caused by minor problems, such as dry skin or
contact dermatitis, and occur after contact with soap,
detergent, or fabric. Many generalized rashes will go away with home
Many different viruses can cause a generalized rash.
Often when a virus is the cause of a rash, the specific virus that caused the
rash is not known. When this is the case, the virus is called a nonspecific
Other viruses that are common causes of generalized rashes
fifth disease, and
roseola. Most rashes caused by viruses are not serious
and usually disappear over a few days to a week. Home treatment is all that is
needed to treat these rashes.
A generalized rash may be a symptom
of a chronic skin condition, such as
A high fever, sore throat,
sandpapery rash, and raspberry-textured tongue may indicate
scarlet fever. Scarlet fever is a childhood disorder
that usually occurs between the ages of 2 and 10. The rash is caused by a toxin
that is present in some strep bacteria. The rash itself does not need
treatment, but the strep infection does. The rash is not contagious, but strep
infection is. Other common strep infections include strep throat and
On rare occasions, even with
today's immunizations, there will be an outbreak of
measles (rubeola) or
rubella (German measles). If a child has a generalized
rash that looks like measles or rubella, especially if there is an outbreak in
the community, call your doctor.
A rash that looks
like a sunburn and a fever of
102°F (38.9°C) or higher may be
caused by a rare condition called
toxic shock syndrome.
A very rare and
serious type of generalized red rash may cause the skin to peel away, leaving
large areas of skin that weep or ooze fluid like a severe burn. If this type of
rash occurs, a visit to a doctor is required. The cause may be
toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which can occur after the use of some
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
David Messenger, MD
July 19, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
July 19, 2010
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