In many cases, a rash – or skin irritation – does not require emergency care. Common, non-emergency causes may include minor allergic reactions to plants (such as poison ivy and poison oak); allergic reactions to soaps, detergents or shampoos; reactions to heat or cold; and reactions to stress or embarrassment. When rashes occur for these reasons, they generally respond to home care.

However, some rashes can indicate a more serious problem. See below for guidance on when to seek emergency care for a rash.

If you have these symptoms, you may require emergency care

Seek ER treatment if the rash is accompanied by any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness/swelling in the throat
  • Areas of tenderness
  • Streaks of red
  • Skin peeling way or blisters in the mouth
  • Abnormal bleeding or bruises under the rash

Reactions to medication

If you think your rash may be a reaction to medication, stop taking the medication and call your doctor immediately. Do not continue taking the medication until you've seen your doctor.

If the rash does not go away, call your doctor

If the rash is recurring or persistent, it may indicate a skin condition (such as eczema or psoriasis) or an ongoing allergic reaction. You may not need to go to the ER, but you should make an appointment with your primary care physician to seek medical treatment.

When to Take Your Child to the ER for a Rash

When your child has a rash or skin irritation, it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether the best course of action is to treat the rash at home, call your pediatrician or seek emergency care. Common causes of rash may include allergic reactions to shampoos, soaps or detergents; reactions to viral infections; reactions to heat or cold; or reactions to stress or embarrassment. These non-emergency rash causes will generally respond to home care. However, if your child’s rash persists, call your pediatrician.

With more serious rashes, you may need to seek emergency care. See below for guidance on when to take your child to the ER for a rash.

If your child has these symptoms, emergency care may be necessary:

Seek ER treatment if the rash is accompanied by any of the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin peeling away or blisters in the mouth
  • Swelling or tightness in the throat
  • Areas of tenderness
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Streaks of red
  • Abnormal bleeding or bruises under the rash

Reactions to medication

If you believe your child has developed a rash as a reaction to a medication he or she is taking, immediately stop giving your child the medication and call your pediatrician. Do not resume giving your child the medicine until your pediatrician says it is okay.

Call your pediatrician if the rash does not go away.

A recurring or persistent rash may indicate your child has an ongoing allergic reaction or a skin condition (such as eczema or psoriasis). In this case, you may not need to take your child to the ER, but you should make an appointment to see your pediatrician.

Wesley EmergencyCare Network ERs

Online ER Check-in

Patients can complete advance check-in to any of Wesley's four emergency rooms with a free mobile app available for Apple iPhones in iTunes and for Android phones in the Google Play App Store. Patients can also complete advance registration at www.wesleyercheckin.com. Users simply select which Wesley facility they would like to go to and fill out a few required fields. The selected ER will be instantly notified, enabling the ER staff to better prepare for the patient's arrival. The app and website include the facilities' average wait times so patients can better plan their visit.

ER Average Wait Times

ER wait times are approximate and provided for informational purposes only. If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

The ER wait time represents the time it takes to see a qualified medical professional, defined as a Doctor of Medicine (MD), Doctor of Osteopathy (DO), Physician Assistant (PA) or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP).

ER wait times represent a four-hour rolling average updated every 30 minutes, and is defined as the time of patient arrival until the time the patient is greeted by a qualified medical professional. Patients are triaged at arrival and are then seen by a qualified medical professional in priority order based on their presenting complaint and reason for visit.

Ready Care

Wesley's main emergency department also provides Ready Care services, an “express lane” through the emergency department in a convenient, timely setting. These services are an alternative care route to the regular emergency department where treatment is determined on the severity of the patient's condition. Ready Care is ideal for patients who need immediate care for small emergencies, such as sprains, sore throats, ear infections and rashes. The service area is managed by providers trained in emergency medicine and is fully supervised by board-certified physicians. Patients are referred to the area through the regular emergency department.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact 911 or seek medical attention immediately.