Viral axanthems are skin eruptions or rashes that may be caused by infections with viruses. These rashes are a symptom of a viral infection. While viral exanthems are common, they however, vary in their appearance. Most of them will cause some red or pink spots on skin covering a large part of body. Often, the rashes do not itch but at times, some types of viral exanthems can cause blisters and become very itchy. Viral infections are considered highly contagious, ergo; anyone who has viral exanthem should try to avoid getting in close contact with other people until the rash heals.
What are the causes of exanthem?
Exanthems are common during childhood and they are mainly associated with viral skin infections such as chickenpox, roseola, German measles or rubella, measles or morbilli, winter viruses or summer viruses. Determining the cause of this condition is mainly based on time of eruption, distribution, and characteristic morphology.
Apart from viral exanthems, there are also exanthems caused by other non-viral conditions. For instance, the eruptive rashes may be caused by bacteria and other infections including scarlet fever, smallpox, staphylococcal infection, meningococcal disease, rickettsial disease, Kawasaki’s disease, and mycoplasma pneumonia.
Symptoms of viral exanthem
While the symptoms and signs may vary significantly depending on causes, most patients with this rash will have non-specific rashes that tend to appear as blotches or spots. These rashes may be itchy or they may not. The rash tends to be widespread covering large parts of the body.
It may be more extensive in areas such as the trunk and the extremities. Mostly, before the rash develops, a patient may have some preceding symptoms that include malaise, fever, irritability, headache, and abdominal pain. A patient may also experience loss of appetite prior to the rash forming.
Most infection that will cause viral exanthems may also come with other symptoms such as sore throat, fatigue, fever, and headaches. Many of these symptoms will only run for a couple of days or weeks and they may clear up without needing treatment. However, if they persist and do not disappear within that time-frame, or if the symptoms are bothersome; one may need to consider seeking a doctor for more checkups and treatment.
How exanthems are diagnosed?
In childhood, the viral exanthems tend to have distinct patters of eruption rashes as well as pre rash or prodromal symptoms. Prodrome symptoms are early symptoms of a disease that indicate the onset of the disease before the specific symptoms occur. When a patient shows these features of viral infection, it may be easy to diagnose the condition.
Nonetheless, at other times, the condition may appear but with no distinctive prodromal symptoms and signs or characteristic lesions. This means that the diagnosis for a specific exanthem cause may be quite difficult. Moreover, some children may only fall ill for a short time now allowing specific diagnosis to be possible.
When pregnant women or patients who are immunosuppressed or immunocompromised get in contact with children infected with viral exanthem, they should be subjected to a definitive diagnosis. Moreover, the diagnosis of some causes may be very important because some conditions can become life threatening when not treated urgently using appropriate medicines such as the Kawasaki’s disease or the meningococcal disease.
If exanthems are caused by viral infections, it means that they are not treatable. However, they almost always disappear on their own without needing treatment or causing long-term health problems. However, when the conditions are caused by bacterial infections, it is important for the patients to see a doctor. Proper immunization may be needed to help reduce the chances of developing many viral or bacterial infections.
In patients with non-specific cause for exanthems, there may be no treatment needed since the condition is mostly short lives and resolves within a short time. Where the symptoms become disturbing, symptomatic treatment may be applied. For instance, to help reduce fever, a patient may be administered with paracetamol. If the viral exanthem causes itchy skin, a patient may be prescribed oral or topical antihistamines to relieve the itching.
When using medications to treat symptoms especially in children with viral exanthem, parents should refrain from using over the counter medications. Prescription drugs may be needed and before they are administered, proper checkup is done. Remember that viral causes of exanthem will mostly disappear on their own. They are usually the body’s response to the virus and do not stay for a long time.
Children who are aged less than 18 years shouldn’t be given aspirin, as it is believed to cause serious conditions like Reye syndrome that triggers a life threatening liver and brain damage. NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used to relieve pain and fever or swelling, and may not be given to children under age of 6 months. A prescription from a doctor is needed. Since exanthems tend to occur in children, if there is any treatment to be done, it needs the intervention of a doctor.
Viral rash exanthem pictures