What Does the Rash Caused by Meningitis Look Like?

Meningitis is a serious illness that occurs when the lining that covers the spinal cord and brain, known as the meninges, becomes inflamed. The cause of meningitis is usually due to a viral or bacterial infection.

Septicemia, or blood poisoning, occurs when a bacterial infection affects the blood.  It is caused when bacteria in the body multiplies and sends toxins into the bloodstream.

Although meningitis and septicemia are two different diseases, those who are suffering meningococcal meningitis, the most common form of bacterial meningitis, may very well also develop septicemia.

What Is Meningitis Rash Like?

Developing a faint rash that resembles a bunch of very small pink, red or purple pinpricks with meningococcal meningitis is common. Initially, the rash may be mistaken as a bit of bruising, blotchiness, or a scratch. It can be visible on any location of the body.

As the patient becomes more ill and the infection more wide spread, additional bleeding takes place under the skin and the rash becomes more noticeable. It may get to the point where it looks like large bruises rather than a rash.

If the patient has darker skin, the rash will be easier to see on areas such as the inside of the mouth, the eyelids, or on the palm of the hand.

The Glass Test

One way to help determine if a rash is caused by meningococcal septicemia is to perform the ‘glass test’. Using a clear glass, press firmly against the area of the skin that is showing the rash. If the rash does not fade when pressed, the patient may have been infected with meningitis. 

If the rash and a fever are present, seek emergency medical assistance.

Here are some pictures of meningitis rash:

Notes and Precautions

If you or someone else has signs of meningitis seek emergency medical assistance right away. Do not wait to see if a rash develops.

Viral meningitis develops more slowly than bacterial meningitis, which is more serious. Those infected with bacterial meningitis will likely experience symptoms suddenly and will become increasing sick quickly. The faster antibiotics are administered, the more likely complications will be avoided.

Other Common Meningitis Symptoms

Bacterial Meningitis

Bacterial meningitis is more likely to infect younger children under age 5 and babies.  Symptom of meningitis you may notice in patients within this age group may include some or all of the following in any order:

Symptoms older children and adults suffering from bacterial meningitis may experience include:

Viral meningitis

The symptoms of viral meningitis are usually similar to the flu, including:

In severe viral meningitis, symptoms may include:

Meningitis and septicaemia -- Watch the video to know the symptoms:

How to Treat Meningitis

After medical tests are performed and meningococcal meningitis is confirmed, antibiotics will be prescribed by IV, such as ceftriaxone or penicillin. Other medications may also be given, including steroids or drugs used to relieve pressure from spinal fluid.

Treatment for meningitis is different depending on whether it is viral or bacterial.

Viral Meningitis

Since antibiotics are not effective in treating viral meningitis, getting lots of rest and having someone help take care of you is important.  Although viral meningitis usually doesn’t last very long, some people continue to be more tired than usual for a while or suffer from headaches.

Occasionally, encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain, may occur with viral meningitis.  In this case, antiviral treatment may be prescribed.

Bacterial Meningitis

If you are diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, you will need to begin IV antibiotic treatment right away.  You will be admitted to the hospital, and possibly to the ICU if your infective is severe.  You may also be given additional oxygen treatment.

Children with meningitis may also require intravenous feeding.  Recovery time for bacterial meningitis can take anywhere from a week to a month or even longer.

If you or a loved one has come into contact with someone who has recently been diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis, be sure to see your doctor right away so that you don’t catch this serious infection. Common environments where you may pick up this contagious disease include daycare, school, home, or work.

How to Prevent Meningitis

A number of vaccinations are available in order to prevent certain types of bacterial meningitis and those meningitis rash as listed below.

Children between the ages of 9 months and 11 years can also be given this vaccine if they have been exposed to bacterial meningitis or fall into a high risk category.  This vaccine can also be used for older individuals who have not been vaccinated if they become exposed to the disease.

Reference: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/meningitis/basics/prevention/con-20019713

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