What causes purplish rash and what should I do about it?

Symptom Database

A purplish rash can be a cause for concern, as it is not a common skin condition. If you notice purplish spots or patches on your skin, it is important to understand the possible causes and seek appropriate treatment. In this article, we will explore the various factors that can lead to a purplish rash and discuss what you should do if you experience this skin discoloration.

Understanding the Causes of a Purplish Rash

There are several potential causes for a purplish rash, ranging from minor skin irritations to more serious underlying conditions. Here are some common factors that can contribute to the development of a purplish rash:

Allergic Reactions

Allergies to certain substances, such as medications, foods, or environmental triggers, can manifest as a purplish rash. This type of rash is often accompanied by itching, swelling, and redness. Identifying and avoiding the allergen is crucial in managing and preventing further outbreaks.


Infections, both viral and bacterial, can cause skin rashes. For example, conditions like cellulitis or erysipelas can lead to purplish patches on the skin. These infections require medical attention and may be treated with antibiotics or antiviral medications.

Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus or vasculitis, can cause skin rashes characterized by purplish discoloration. These conditions occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues, leading to inflammation and skin abnormalities. Treatment for autoimmune disorders typically involves medication to suppress the immune response.

Medication Side Effects

Some medications can cause adverse reactions, including skin rashes. If you recently started a new medication and notice a purplish rash, it is essential to consult your healthcare provider. They can evaluate whether the rash is a side effect of the medication and recommend alternative options if necessary.

Recognizing the Symptoms of a Purplish Rash

Identifying the symptoms associated with a purplish rash can help determine the underlying cause and guide appropriate treatment. Here are some common signs to look out for:


A purplish rash is characterized by patches or spots on the skin that have a purple or bluish hue. The discoloration may be localized or spread across a larger area.

Itching or Irritation

Many purplish rashes are accompanied by itching or irritation. This can be a result of inflammation or an allergic reaction.

Pain or Tenderness

In some cases, a purplish rash may be accompanied by pain or tenderness. This can indicate an underlying infection or inflammation.

Other Systemic Symptoms

Depending on the cause of the rash, you may experience additional systemic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, or joint pain. These symptoms can provide valuable clues to the underlying condition.

Treating a Purplish Rash

The treatment for a purplish rash depends on the underlying cause. Here are some general guidelines:

Consult a Dermatologist

If you notice a purplish rash that persists or worsens over time, it is important to consult a dermatologist. They can evaluate your symptoms, perform any necessary tests, and provide a proper diagnosis.

Once the underlying cause of the rash is identified, your dermatologist will recommend an appropriate treatment plan. This may involve topical creams, oral medications, or lifestyle changes to manage the condition effectively.

Avoid Triggers

If your purplish rash is caused by an allergic reaction, it is crucial to identify and avoid the trigger. This may involve eliminating certain foods, changing skincare products, or taking precautions to minimize exposure to environmental allergens.

Practice Good Skincare

Maintaining good skincare practices can help prevent and manage skin rashes. This includes keeping the skin clean, moisturized, and protected from harsh chemicals or irritants.


A purplish rash can be a cause for concern, but with proper understanding and timely intervention, it can be effectively managed. By recognizing the symptoms and seeking appropriate treatment, you can address the underlying cause and alleviate discomfort. Remember to consult a dermatologist for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan. With the right approach, you can regain healthy, rash-free skin.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
Add a comment