Meningitis Rashes

Most patients with meningococcal septicaemia develop a rash - it is one of the clearest and most important signs to recognise.

Most patients with meningococcal septicaemia develop a rash - it is one of the clearest and most important signs to recognise.

Meningitis is a swelling of the membranes of the brain and spine. It can be due to viral, fungal, or bacterial infection. The most typical cause of meningitis is a viral infection. However bacterial meningitis is one of the most harmful forms of the disease.

Symptoms normally happen within a week after exposure. Not everybody establishes every symptom. However they might develop a distinctive skin rash or additional symptoms that include:

  • fever
  • feeling ill
  • headache

See your doctor if you think you or a loved one might have contracted meningitis. This infection can be harmful.

First Signs of Meningitis

Meningococcal germs reproduce in the bloodstream and release poisons (septicemia). As the infection progresses, blood vessels can end up being harmed.

This can cause a faint skin rash that looks like small pinpricks. The spots might be pink, red, or purple. In the early phases these symptoms might be dismissed as a scratch or mild bruising. The skin might simply look blotchy and can appear anywhere on the body.

The Meningitis Rash

You may have become aware of the rash linked to meningitis however here are the realities. Meningococcal germs can cause meningitis and septicaemia. People with septicaemia can get a ‘pin prick’ rash on their skin which can develop into purple bruising.

meningitis rashes on baby leg

Press the side of a clear glass against the rash – it might fade at first but keep checking. Remember – a rash can be more difficult to see on darker skin so make sure you know what other symptoms to search for.

If somebody is suffering with a fever and a rash that does not disappear with pressure, this is a medical emergency. Call for help right away.

meningitis rashes on man's legs

A Worsening Rash

As the infection spreads, the rash ends up being more obvious. More bleeding under the skin may trigger the spots to turn dark red or deep purple. The rash may resemble big swellings.

It’s harder to see the rash on darker skin. If you presume meningitis, check lighter areas like the palms, eyelids, and inside the mouth.

Not everyone with meningitis establishes a rash.

The Glass Test

One sign of meningococcal septicemia is that the rash does not fade when you apply pressure to the skin. You can evaluate this by pushing the side of a clear drinking glass against the skin. If the rash appears like it fades, check occasionally for changes. If you can still see the spots plainly through the glass, it may signify septicemia, particularly if you likewise have a fever.

The glass test is an excellent tool, however it’s not always accurate. This is a dangerous disease so it’s important to obtain medical attention if you have any symptoms.

Tissue Damage

The rash spreads and continues to darken as the condition advances. Capillary damage triggers blood pressure and circulation to fall. Since the limbs are at the far reaches of the circulatory system, a system-wide reduction in high blood pressure leads to insufficient oxygen delivery, particularly in the limbs. This can injure tissue and cause irreversible scarring. Plastic surgery and skin grafting may have the ability to enhance function after the health problem passes. In severe cases, it becomes required to cut off fingers, toes, arms, or legs. Corrective services might be helpful in those cases, but healing might take years.


Last modified: June 27, 2018

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