What Causes Meningitis Rash? Its Signs And Treatment Options

An inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord (meninges) is known as meningitis. Inflammation occurs due to infection with bacteria, viruses or other microbes and less frequently because of certain medications. The infection can be life threatening due to the inflammation’s nearness to the brain and spinal cord; thus prompt diagnosis and treatment are very crucial.

Commonest symptoms of meningitis are stiffness of the neck, headache, fever, vomiting, altered consciousness, aversion to noise and photo-phobia and occasionally a skin rash. In small children, only drowsiness and irritability may be present. In case of a skin rash, it indicates a specific cause of meningitis; for example, meningococcal bacteria.

A majority of cases of meningitis are caused by a viral infection; nonetheless, bacterial and fungal infections can also cause meningitis.

Depending up on the cause, meningitis resolves either on its own within 2 to 3 weeks, or can become life threatening.

Causes And Signs Of Meningitis Rash

Generally, Neisseria meningitidis (a bacterium), also known as meningococcal meningitis is known to cause the rash associated with the condition.

Other possible causative bacterial causes are – Streptococcus pneumonia, Haemophilus influenzae and Listeria monocytogenes.

Several viruses are also known to cause meningitis; enteroviruses cause 30 % of meningitis.

Cryptococcal meningitis is a fungal form which afflicts people having compromised immune systems, such as AIDS. It can become life threatening if neglected.

Signs Of Meningitis Rash

The rash of meningitis spreads rapidly. By and large, petechiae (rash) tend to precede other symptoms of the condition. The rash comprises of several tiny, red or purple spots on the lower extremity of the body, trunk, mucous membranes, conjunctiva, and palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

Characteristically, the rash is non-blanching; i.e. the redness does not fade away when pressed. The skin rash occurs in meningitis caused due to Neisseria meningitidis and occasionally in meningitis due to other bacteria.

Meningitis Rash Treatment Options

In case of bacterial meningitis:

  • Bacterial meningitis calls for without delay treatment using IV antibiotics and cortisone-like drugs, in order to make certain that recovery occurs fast and the risk of complications is minimum. Your health care professional may advocate broad spectrum antibiotics until he can establish the precise cause of the infection.
  • Treatments for shock, seizures, swelling of the brain and dehydration need to be started as well.
  • Infected sinuses may require drainage. Infected fluid between the skull and the meninges covering the brain may require to be drained surgically.

In case of viral meningitis
Most cases of viral meningitis resolve on their own without any therapy. Treatment plan comprises of drinking lots of fluids, ample bed rest and symptomatic treatment of fever, body pain and vomiting.

If the cause of meningitis is ambiguous, you may be put on to antiviral and antibiotic treatment while your doctor will establish the cause.

In case of fungal meningitis

Treatment is deferred till a laboratory confirmation is done, given that, fungal meningitis treatment is associated with detrimental side effects.

Non infectious meningitis due to autoimmune disease or an allergy is managed with cortisone-like drugs.