"Should I Visit the ER for a Rash?"

In many cases, a rash—or skin irritation—does not require emergency care. Common, non-emergency causes may include minor allergic reactions to plants (such as poison ivy and poison oak); allergic reactions to soaps, detergents or shampoos; reactions to heat or cold; and reactions to stress or embarrassment. When rashes occur for these reasons, they generally respond to home care.

However, some rashes can indicate a more serious problem. See below for guidance on when to seek emergency care for a rash.

Visit the ER if:

  • The rash is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
    • Fever
    • Joint pain
    • Headache
    • Shortness of breath
    • Tightness/swelling in the throat
    • Areas of tenderness
    • Streaks of red
    • Skin peeling away or blisters in the mouth
    • Abnormal bleeding or bruises under the rash

Reactions to Medication

If you think your rash may be a reaction to medication, stop taking the medication and call your doctor immediately. Do not continue taking the medication until you have seen your doctor.

If the Rash Does Not Go Away, Call Your Doctor

If the rash is recurring or persistent, it may indicate a skin condition (such as eczema or psoriasis) or an ongoing allergic reaction. You may not need to go to the ER, but you should make an appointment with your primary care physician to seek medical treatment.

Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center can address your abdominal pain concerns. We strive to beat the national average wait time, so you can get quick access to high-quality emergency medical care. Learn more about our ER.