Maculopapular rash can be defined as acute eruption and formation of skin lesions. Macule can be defined as flat lesion measuring less than 1 cm in diameter. And papule can be defined as raised bumps or lesions having the same measurement. If any lesions or bumps exceeds 1cm in diameter it is known as nodules. Thus maculopapular rash is a combination of macule and papule both implies lesions of distinct skin discoloration.
Maculopapular rash is marked by raised bumps of small size that causes discoloration on the normal skin. Often the lesions are red and can occur anywhere in the body or defined to specific area. Again the rashes can be either acute (resolving within few weeks) or be chronic (existing more than 8 weeks or for months together). Under normal health condition, this rash cannot be a problem but if you have impaired immunity or health having maculopapular rash can be sign of underlying serious condition. Maculopapular rash is caused by medications in adults and in children often it is a sign of viral infection. Acute type of rash may last anywhere from 1-3 weeks and chronic type can take more than 8 weeks to disappear.
Maculopapular Rash Causes :
Many factors are known to cause maculopapular rash.
Viral Infection :
- In children viral infection is the major cause for maculopapular rash. It can be Rubeola measles causing lesions or bumps starting from head and proceeding till their legs. For Rubella virus the rash starts initially on the face and continue to spread to other body parts.
- Roseola infection can also cause maculopapular rash. Other forms of viral infections that cause chikungunya and parvovirus can also cause this type of rashes. Other viruses like enteroviruses, Epstein Barr virus, Rocky Mountain fever, Lyme disease, Murine Typhus, secondary syphilis infection, scabies, Psittacosis, Rate bite fever and leptospirosis can cause maculopapular rash.
- Drug induced maculopapular rash is common in adults. Medications given for other infections, drugs taken for nervous problem like epilepsy, can cause this rash. Hypersensitive drugs can cause allergic reaction in the form of maculopapular rash.
- If you are getting this rash within 2 days, after taking any new medication it can be adverse effect of the drug. Once you stop using the medicine the rashes would automatically disappear within few days.
- Rheumatoid arthritis and other immune-suppressant disorders can cause maculopapular rash.
- Abnormally low level of cholesterol and overuse of vitamin B3 or Niacin can also cause maculopapular rash.
- For patients with HIV infection this rash is a sign of early infection.
Maculopapular Rash Symptoms :
Maculopapular rash is marked by small raised reddened bumps or lesions on the skin. It may or may not be itchy. But if you have other signs like fever, shortness of breath and choking along with rash it may be a cause of serious concern which needs immediate medical help. Some people may develop anaphylactic reactions mentioned above in addition to rash.
Maculopapular Rash Diagnosis :
Based on your symptom, your doctor would first complete physical examination. He may check the body to ensure how far the rash has progressed. Blood count would be done for confirming an infection from virus. Blood test and culture will be done and in case of doubt cerebrospinal fluid will be taken and tested in the lab. For more accurate diagnosis, biopsy of the tissue sample from the lesion is taken and tested. He may further get complete medical history of the patient and whether he/she has used any new drug a day or two before.
Maculopapular Rash Treatment :
- Treatment is based on the cause and intensity of the symptoms. The main aim of treating maculopapular rash is to give quick relief from the symptoms and get back original skin color.
- Painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetomol are given to reduce the pain and swelling. The person will have to take plenty of rest and fluids. Topical creams that contain corticosteroid are prescribed and for more severe cases oral antihistamines are given to give comfort.
- At present many patients are given gamma radiation since there is no definite cure from other methods.
- For those with chikungunya virus, chloroquine is given for specific period or until the rashes disappear.
- For more severe cases of dengue fever the patient would be admitted in the hospital and given IV fluids to prevent dehydration.