Top rashes you need to know about that could be deadly – from cancer to meningitis

By Staff 9 Min Read

Whilst rashes are mostly harmless some can be an indicator of more serious illnesses like cancer or meningitis and it’s important to be able to identify symptoms

Rashes can be frustrating and inconvenient but most of them are relatively harmless, however, some are not so harmless and it’s important to be able to identify them.

Millions of Brits suffer from some type of skin condition from eczema, psoriasis, and acne to gives, blisters and heat rashes – all of these conditions are frustrating to manage but aren’t life-threatening. However, there are serious rashes that can present similarly.

Dr Walayat Hussain, a British Association of Dermatologists spo, said: “The skin is like the window to the body if you like, so sometimes that can be a sign that something is going on inside the body.”

Red patchy rash that can turn scaly: Lymphoma

Sometimes patience diagnosed with lymphoma – cancer of the lymphatic system can experience mycosis fungoides.

This is a rash that can present like other common conditions like eczema or psoriasis. It can develop over a really long time and can be difficult to diagnose as it presents like less worrisome rashes.

The lymphatic system is the network of organs, vessels, tissues and glands in the body that work to get rid of toxins. A person with lymphoma may develop mycosis fungoides when the blood travels to the upper layer of the skin.

In its early stages, it may appear as a patchy red rash that is raised and chronically itchy but as it progresses, it tends to become scaly, with thin, wrinkled skin.

Less than 500 people are diagnosed with mycosis fungoides each year in the UK, according to the British Association of Dermatologists for which there is no cure. However. almost 90 in 100 people survive five years or more after diagnosis, Cancer Research UK says.

Small red spots covering the skin: Leukaemia

Leukaemia – a blood cancer – which is another type of cancer can also cause a rash. Whilst also causing other symptoms like fatigue, it can cause petechiae – clusters of tiny spots on skin.

On lighter skin, these usually look red, and on darker skin, it can appear purple or darker than the surrounding skin. This is because of broken blood vessels under the skin.

The rash can be mistaken for atopic dermatitis – a common form of eczema. The main difference is leukaemia rashes will retain their colour when pressure is applied to the area of the rash whilst other rashes will turn white.

Red spots under the skin: Blood clotting issues

Purple spots under the skin can signal blood clotting disorder, these dots can vary in size.

The rash, called purpura, can be caused by low or high levels of platelets – cells in the blood that cause clotting.

Weak blood vessels, scurvy, medications or vaccines, infections such HIV or Hepatitis C, and conditions present from birth can all cause purpura.

Blood clotting disorders can be dangerous and will need emergency medical attention.

Red pinpricks with flu-like symptoms: Meningitis

A rash that presents as tiny pinpricks under the skin can be meningitis – a condition l condition involving inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis symptoms can present like flu and a rash may not always occur.

However, it can begin as small pinpricks and then turn into red or purple blotches. To check if your child has it you can use a glass and press it against the rash – if it doesn’t fade under pressure, it could be caused by meningitis.

This can also be a sign of sepsis caused by meningitis and it’s best to seek emergency medical help immediately.

Thicker, darker patches of skin: Cancer or diabetes

Acanthosis nigricans is when darker, thickened patches of skin develop around the armpit, groin or neck. This is more of a sign of an underlying health condition than a condition.

They can be dry and rough patches which are itchy and feel similar to velvet. The most common cause of acanthosis nigricans is being very overweight the NHS says.

Other potential causes include type 2 diabetes, and Cushing’s syndrome. polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an underactive thyroid, steroids, hormone treatments, the contraceptive pill, stomach cancer and a faulty gene inherited from your parents.

Whilst some of these conditions aren’t deadline there can be complications. People with diabetes are at increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and amputations, so it is vital to get an early diagnosis.

Those with Cushing’s syndrome can also experience high blood pressure, as well as bone loss, strokes, infections and blood clots.

It’s also possible for healthy people with no other conditions to get acanthosis nigricans and is more common in people with black or brown skin.

However, rashes are mostly harmless…

It can be easy to panic about rashes especially now you know some rashes are linked to serious illnesses but Dr Hussain reassured that a rash is harmless most of the time.

Speaking to The Sun , he said: “The most common cause of a rash will not be cancer-related. I think that is a really important message to give to people.”

Dr Hussain advised anyone with any skin rash concerns to see their GP.

Share This Article
Leave a comment