Maculopapular Rash

Maculopapular Rash: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

You can develop a maculopapular rash due to different underlying conditions. Also known as morbilliform eruption, it can cause flat and raised skin lesions. You need to pay attention as it can signify an allergic reaction or a serious infection. So, developing such an eruption indicates the presence of an underlying health ailment other than the condition itself. See a doctor as early as possible, especially when you suffer from other symptoms along with skin eruptions. It indicates something serious that requires immediate medical attention. Read ahead to know more about the type of rash and the different treatments available to manage the condition.

Maculopapular Rash

About Maculopapular Rash

Morbilliform eruption has both flat as well as raised skin lesions. A maculopapular rash is the combination of two words macule and papule. Macule refers to the discolored, flat skin lesions while papule is the small raised bumps. The skin lesions tend to merge and appear red. Macules developing on the skin that are bigger than one centimeter are known as patches. The papules that can merge are known as plaques.

Appearance And Characteristics Of Maculopapular Rash

How can you confirm the bumps you develop is the maculopapular rash? You can confirm it by looking at it closely. The distinctive feature of morbilliform eruption is its pattern. It has a combination of macules as well as papules. Wondering what they are? Macules refer to the red area of discoloration you develop. It is small and flat. While papules are a small, raised lesion with reddish appearance. So, the morbilliform eruption appears as small red bumps against a red background. People with darker skin tone fail to notice the red patch that appears flat. You can develop the bumps on any part of the body. It usually lasts from two to twenty-one days. Chronic cases of morbilliform eruption may last for more than eight weeks.

Appearance And Characteristics Of Maculopapular Rash

You cannot predict how quickly the eruption can develop on your body or the exact location where it appears. Depending on the underlying medical cause, you can develop in specific areas of the body. But, it spreads anywhere on the boy from its initial place of origin. So, if you develop it on your face, it spreads down to limbs. Doctors detect the underlying cause of the skin eruptions based on the place of origin. So, you need to inform where the rash started on the body. It helps narrow down the potential causes of the problem.

Other Symptoms Associated With Maculopapular Rash

People developing morbilliform eruption can feel itching at the site of the bumps. You can also suffer from other symptoms if the condition occurs due to immune system reactions and infections like:

  • Trouble breathing properly
  • Fever
  • Dry skin
  • A headache
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle Pain

People who experience any of the signs along with morbilliform eruptions need to see a doctor immediately. In the majority of cases, serious infections can trigger skin problems. So, you need medical intervention to avoid any complication and prevent it from spreading it to others. 

Causes Of Maculopapular Rash

A maculopapular rash can indicate the presence of underlying health conditions, infections, or allergic reactions. In the majority of the cases, the skin problem occurs due to some kind of viral infection. But, you need to see a doctor check the underlying cause of the rash. In some cases, the rash is the indicator of some serious health issues. You develop morbilliform eruption due to the following:


When you suffer from viral and bacterial infections, you can see the morbilliform eruption. If you suffer from the infection that triggers the bumps, then you can also develop other signs. The common infection associated with the condition are:

Ebola Virus

Ebola Virus

Infection caused by Ebola is rare. But, it is a deadly virus that can trigger body aches, fever, and diarrhea. In some cases, the affected person starts bleeding inside as well as outside the body. The virus can spread through your body and attack the immune system. As it advances, it starts affecting your organs. It can lead to a drastic drop in the blood-clotting cells. So, people face a high risk of death. One of the common symptoms associated with Ebola infection is the rash. It develops in people between day four and six of contracting the virus. A person suffering from Ebola virus infection can have ghost-like features. The bumps usually develop on the forearms, upper arms, and legs.

Hand Foot, And Mouth Disease

Hand Foot, And Mouth Disease

It is a mild infection affecting young children. Hand, foot, and mouth disease usually causes sores to develop in the mouth and rashes to develop on the child’s hands as well as feet. The viral infection caused by coxsackievirus B occurs commonly in young children

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B

Rashes are most often associated with acute hepatitis B infections, although a recurring rash may occur in those chronically infected. Talk to people living with HBV and they’ll tell you they have occasional rashes and annoying itching, even if their doctor may tell them they do not.

Hepatitis C

People suffering from hepatitis C can develop a common skin rash known as urticaria. The rash developed can trigger itching and spreads in several parts of the body. The rash developed is red and causes swelling. The swelling lasts for several hours. Many people morbilliform eruption caused due to Hepatitis C looks like an allergic reaction.



Morbilliform eruption develops in people suffering from herpes infection caused due to herpes simplex virus. It is the common infection affecting people with small bumps on the skin as its main symptoms. The doctors refer to the rash as herpes rash. It usually develops around the mouth and genitals regions of the affected people. But, people suffering from herpes can develop morbilliform eruption anywhere on their body. Before developing the skin problem, people experience a burning or stinging sensation on the skin. The eruption appears like a collection of small blisters that contains fluid in it.


When a person gets affected by HIV, they can develop skin eruptions that appear as blotches or spots. In people with fair skin, it appears red while in dark-skinned people, it appears purplish. The skin eruptions referred to as HIV rash develops during the seroconversion. It means a person develops morbilliform eruption when HIV infections are easy to detect using blood tests. These eruptions can disappear without any treatment in a few weeks.



Measles is highly contagious that affected small children globally and resulted in the cause of death of many until the discovery of a vaccine. The viral disease can trigger different symptoms. One of the main symptoms is the breaking out of rash three to five days after other symptoms begin. You develop flat red spots on the face. The flat eruptions appear first at the hairline. Then, it spreads to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. You can also develop small raised bumps on top of the flat red eruptions.

Scarlet Fever

Scarlet Fever

Scarlet fever refers to the bacterial illness developed by people who experience strep throat. It is also known as scarlatina. Due to the condition, the affected people develop a bright red rash in most areas of the body. Morbilliform eruption usually begins on the neck or face and later spreads to other parts of the body like chest, trunk, arms, and legs.

Zika virus

Zika virus infection can also cause skin eruptions. It only occurs in some people. But, it appears within the third and twelve days after getting a bite from an infected mosquito. People who develop skin eruptions on the trunk. It spreads to the face, arms, legs, palms of hands, and soles of legs. The rash is the combination of reddish blotches and red bumps.

Allergic Reaction

When you develop a morbilliform eruption, it indicates an allergic reaction. When you suffer from an allergic reaction, you develop other symptoms like trouble breathing and other issues. An allergic reaction refers to the reaction of your body in response to an allergen. Allergen is the foreign substance that your immune system mistakes as a threat to your body. So, it releases substances that can trigger an allergic reaction. So, the skin eruption is the symptom of an allergic reaction.

Other Symptoms Associated With Allergic Reaction

Apart from developing skin eruptions, you can also develop other symptoms that point to an allergic reaction. So, see a doctor immediately when you observe the following signs:

  • Trouble breathing properly
  • Dizziness
  • Develop hives
  • Stomach pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • Swelling on different body parts

Maculopapular Rash Due To Reaction To Medication

Some people can suffer from an allergic reaction to over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications. This medication triggers a reaction, which results in rash to develop within seven to twenty-eight days after taking the drug. The most common reaction is caused by amoxicillin. It is the antibiotic medication used to treat viral infection triggered due to the Epstein-Barr virus. This antibiotic is responsible for 70% of the morbilliform eruption occurring due to taking medications.

People taking other medications can also suffer from the morbilliform eruption. The common medications associated with the condition include:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Allopurinol (Zyloprim)
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Hypoglycemic medications
  • Beta-lactam antibiotics
  • Sulphonamides
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs)
  • Thiazide diuretics

Some people can suffer from the reaction as a response to any medication. So, see a doctor immediately to check the reason for the problem.

Complications Of Maculopapular Rash

Morbilliform eruption can cause itching and pain. But, you may not experience complications due to the rash itself. The complication associated with it depends on the underlying cause. The possible complications due to different underlying causes of maculopapular rash are:


It is the life-threatening allergic reactions triggered due to the use of certain drugs. Using these drugs can result in developing morbilliform eruption. Due to the condition, you can develop other signs. So, see a doctor immediately when you observe the following:

  • Stiff neck
  • Headaches
  • Back pain

Zika Virus Complications

Zika Virus Complications

While other viral infections can cause other distressing issues, the Zika virus can trigger severe complications. In the majority of maculopapular rash cases, the infection is caused by the Zika virus. The complications include:

  • Pregnant women suffering from even mild form of Zika virus infection can experience complications with their unborn child. It increases the chances of the child suffering from microcephaly (undeveloped head size) if the expectant mothers contract the infection in the initial stages of their pregnancy (first trimester).
  • The appearance of maculopapular rash due to the Zika virus infection can lead to GBS (Guillain Barré syndrome). It is a rare condition affecting your immune system that attacks the CNS (Central Nervous System). GBS can trigger some serious issues like muscle weakened, pain, sensory problems, and in rare cases, paralysis.

If you are pregnant and see skin eruptions, it is important to see the doctor for a proper evaluation. You need to check if you have contracted the Zika virus. It is important to get medical intervention at the right time to avoid any complications.

Diagnosing Maculopapular Rash

To diagnose the cause of a maculopapular rash, a doctor will ask a person about their general health and any history of illness and allergies. They will ask where the rash started on the body and when it began.

Physical Assessment

It is important to know the exact cause associated with maculopapular rash. So, your doctor carries out a physical assessment to check the symptoms along with checking the affected skin area. During the physical examination, you need to inform the doctor regarding your medical history, the history of allergies, and the information regarding the exact region and date the rash started. You also need to answer the following:

  • Medications you take and its dose
  • Presence of other symptoms
  • Your recent travel history (especially your trip to a region prone to viral infections0

Other Tests

Based on the physical assessment, your doctor suggests the following:

  • To check for the presence of infections, you need to provide a sample of blood and urine.
  • Your doctor takes a sample of rash for biopsy to examine it under the microscope for further information.
  • Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor suggests an ideal treatment plan. If skin disease is behind the eruption, then you need to see a dermatologist.

Treatment For Maculopapular Rash

The treatment for morbilliform eruption depends on the underlying cause. So, you need to see a doctor and determine the exact reason for developing the skin problem to get different treatment options. The options available are:

Treatment For Maculopapular Rash Due To Infection

If the doctor detects infection as the cause for morbilliform eruption then you have the following methods to alleviate the conditions:

Bacterial Infection

If bacterial infection triggers the condition, then you need to take antibiotics prescribed by the doctor to heal the problem.

Viral Infection

If you develop bumps on your skin due to viral infection, then you need to wait until the virus runs its course. Antibiotics do not work for viral infections. So, you have to wait patiently for the body to defeat the viral attack. While you are recovering, take rest and drink plenty of fluids. If you experience pain, then take an over-the-counter pain reliever as per your doctor’s suggestion to ease the discomfort.

Serious Infection

For a more severe virus like HIV, your doctor develops a treatment program. You need to take antiviral drugs and follow the instruction suggested by the doctor.

Treatment For Allergic Reaction

To deal with allergic reactions, your doctor tries to discover the allergen causing the problem. It not just helps with managing the allergic reaction but also offers information on the triggers that you can avoid in the future. To alleviate the symptoms caused by allergen exposure, your doctor suggests the following:

  • Topical creams
  • Antihistamines
  • Cold compress

Managing Reaction To Medication

If the medication you take causes the rash, then you need to see a doctor immediately. The doctor will tell you to stop taking the medication triggering the reaction and offer alternative treatment options. Never decide to stop using the medication without speaking to your doctor. So, make an appointment with the doctor to convey your concerns and get alternative options.

Home Remedies For Maculopapular Rash

While you are recovering at home from the skin eruptions, you can take some steps to reduce the discomfort and distress caused by the rash. It speeds up the healing process and offers you relief.


Drink plenty of fluids when you recover from infection, an allergic reaction or drug reaction. It will help your body heal quickly.

Relief from itching

To reduce the itching caused by a maculopapular rash, a doctor may recommend OTC antihistamines or hydrocortisone cream. Stronger versions of these medications are available by prescription.

Drink Fluids

When you have skin eruptions irrespective of the underlying cause, you have to drink fluids. Try to drink more than eight glasses of water.

Get Rest

You need to take rest. It allows your body to heal quickly.

Use OTC Medication

As a result of the underlying condition, along with skin eruptions, you can develop body aches and fever. So, take NSAIDs like Ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Never treat the maculopapular rash at home by yourself. You need to see a doctor to uncover the actual cause of the condition and the necessary guidelines to deal with the condition.

Preventive Measures To Manage Maculopapular Rash

It is possible to prevent any rashes with papules and macules? Yes, you can take steps to prevent infections, allergic reactions, and the reaction of medication that results in the development of the skin problem.

Prevent Infections

You can try some of the steps suggested below to prevent infections, which triggers the skin problem along with other issues.

Safe Sex

Try to prevent sexually transmitted infections causing morbilliform eruption by practicing safe sex. So, you need to use a condom while becoming intimate with a partner suspected of STIs. It is important to use condoms until the results of the tests for infections come back negative.

Avoid Blood Donation

If you suspect an infection, then avoid passing it to others by taking steps. You need to refrain from donating blood as several infections causing skin eruptions can transmit through the blood.

Avoid Mosquito Bites

Some infections spread through mosquito bites. Therefore, you need to avoid mosquito bites. Follow some pointer like:

  • Wear full-sleeved dresses that cover your whole body.
  • If you are traveling to an infection-prone region, stay in an A/C room.
  • Avoid camping or going outside the areas after dark.
  • Use mosquito-repellents on clothes, gears, and other accessories.

Avoid Scratching

Scratching the itch can only worsen it. So, try to avoid scratching rashes. You can apply a cool compress on the affected area or apply calamine lotion. It will

Prevent Allergies

If allergies trigger your rash, then you need to follow some steps to ensure the problem does not occur or causes a mild reaction.

  • People can develop an allergic rash when they come in contact with allergens. So, avoid coming in contact with allergens.
  • Apply lotion before going out to prevent the severe allergic reaction due to poison ivy. Using lotion on your skin prevents the allergy from spreading or absorbing deep into your skin.
  • Treat your allergy immediately. Wash the area with soap and water. Applying calamine lotion or placing a cold compress reduces the allergic reaction to escalating.

Follow Suggested Dose

It is important to take the medication in its suggested dosages. People taking over-the-counter medication need to stick to the medication dose provided. If you feel the medication is not working, then never increase its dose by yourself. You have to consult a doctor to get the right dosage or change in medication to ensure you never get allergic reaction due to a high dose of medication.


A maculopapular rash can occur due to different reasons. Based on the underlying cause, people have different outlooks. The rash caused due to allergic reaction or drug reaction can heal as soon as you take the necessary steps to control it. Avoiding the trigger clears the rash and also prevents it from recurring. But, a rash developed due to viral infection takes time. You suffer from it until the virus runs its course. Some infections are more serious compared to others. Depending on the underlying cause of infection, you can face mild to severe complications. Some infections have no cure available. So, you can only take steps to manage it. Always check with your doctor for proper diagnosis and an ideal treatment plan. Self-medication is not the right step. Always get advice from the doctor and follow it religiously to get relief.

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