Causes of a Skin Rash After a Virus

A rash following exposure to a virus is a normal reaction by the body as it tries to fight the invading illness. Rashes may appear in any age group and frequently develop in children exposed to common childhood viruses such as fifth disease, or parvovirus.


Exposure to the same virus responsible for causing chickenpox, varicella-zoster virus, causes shingles. After exposure to the virus, it remains in the body and may not cause problems until years later, according to Medline Plus. The chickenpox virus stays dormant in nerve tissues around the brain and spinal cord. Shingles causes a painful rash, most often seen as a band of blisters from the middle of one side of the back around to the front breast area, according to

The pain can escalate so high, some patients think they are experiencing heart problems. The distinct rash of shingles appears shortly after the pain begins. Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over may also be observed, notes Early treatment plays an important role in reducing the chance of complications.

Fifth Disease

Fifth disease, caused by the B 19 parvovirus, transmits from one person to another through the respiratory tract or by the transfusion of infected blood and blood products, notes Thomas Habif, M.D., in his book "Clinical Dermatology." Fifth disease earned its name because it was one of the five most common childhood diseases accompanied by a rash, mentions

The rash usually starts on both cheeks and progresses to the arms, trunk, thighs and buttocks. At that point, the rash takes on a pink, lacy appearance, according to Uncomplicated fifth disease usually only requires home care to relive the symptoms. People with a faulty immune system may require antibiotics for the infection.


Rubella, or German measles, is a mild childhood viral disease rarely seen in countries where immunizations are prevalent. In areas where vaccinations are not as prominent, rubella still exists. This virus is passed by direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Infected people are contagious seven days before the rash appears to seven days after.

The rash associated with rubella usually begins on the face as tiny pink-red dots and then spreads to the neck, extremities and trunk, according to the New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated. Rubella causes problems for the pregnant mother exposed to the virus, including miscarriage, stillbirth or significant abnormalities during development.

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