Know the causes and treatment of maculopapular rash

A maculopapular rash occurs in form of a lesion, which appears like flat or raised skin that usually becomes red in color. The name of this rash has been combined with two words “macule” meaning flat, discolored skin lesions, and “papule” meaning small, raised bump. Macules measure more than a centimeter and appear in form of patches on the skin. On the other hand, papules are elevated lesions measuring less than one centimeter and appear to be merged together. A maculopapular rash is also known as an exanthematous eruption, exanthema, and morbilliform.

Know the causes and treatment of maculopapular rash

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Characteristics of a Maculopapular Rash

There are different causes of a maculopapular rash, however, the most common indication of this rash is the formation of both papules and macules. It appears like a patch of red skin or a red bump on the affected area. It can cause itching that may last for about two to three days, or extend up to three weeks until treated. The treatment varies as per the actual cause of the rash.

Symptoms of Maculopapular Rash:

Following are some common symptoms of maculopapular rash:

  • Skin dryness
  • Irregular breathing
  • Sudden change in body temperature
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you feel any of these symptoms, you must immediately see a doctor to know the potential sign of this skin condition.

Causes of Maculopapular Rash

There are various conditions that may cause maculopapular rashes in people. They can occur due to the following:

  • Allergies: People who have certain allergies can experience maculopapular rashes break out within a few minutes or hours if they’re being exposed to specific allergens. Besides these rashes, a person suffering from allergies can also experience symptoms like irregular heart rate followed by irregular breathing.
  • Reaction to drugs: A side effect or allergic reaction can also occur to a drug or medication, which further causes maculopapular rashes. In this case, rashes appear after 4 to 12 days of consuming the medication. Such rashes go away within one to two weeks after stopping the dose. Even chemotherapeutic medications may cause maculopapular rashes to break out.
  • Viral or bacterial infections: A maculopapular rash can occur due to a viral or bacterial infection. Along with the rashes, the infected person will also experience increased heart rate, irregular breathing, muscle pain, or fever. Some of the viral infections that may cause maculopapular rash break out are Herpes, HIV, Zika, Ebola, and Measles, EBV infection, Hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection.
  • Dengue fever: Another major cause of maculopapular rashes is dengue fever. It is spread by mosquitoes and may result in joint pain, fever and rashes.
  • Scabies: Scabies is a highly contagious skin condition, which can be the potential cause of itching that further leads to these skin rashes.
  • Low cholesterol: People with low cholesterol level may develop a maculopapular rash. It occurs due to an excessive intake of vitamin B3 or niacin.


The doctor will treat your maculopapular rashes depending on the particular cause. For immediate treatment antihistamines or topical steroids can be prescribed to stop excessive itching. Other ways to treat rashes include:

  • Drug reactions: in such cases, the doctor immediately asks you to stop the medication and give you an alternative drug, if necessary.
  • Infections: In case of a viral infection or a bacterial infection, treatment for the particular disease is done. For instance, a maculopapular rash caused by the Zika virus has no specific treatment. So, you will be recommended to rest and drink plenty of fluids. 
  • Allergic reactions: To treat rashes caused by allergic reactions, topical steroid creams, as well as wet wraps, are advised to get rid of inflammation. Even antihistamines can be prescribed for relief.

Reference Links:

Maculopapular rash

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