These are characterised by fever, skin rashes or eruptions and mucosal lesions usually of short duration (3 to 10 days). Very often, they are caused by viral (and sometimes non-viral infections causes also), and allergic reasons (drug/diet). Irrespective of religion, caste or socioeconomic status, all such eruptions are considered by our local people as Ammai Viyathi, in Tamil (at least all are patriotic with the same views in misbelief).
To start with, fever is the earliest symptom, followed by cold, stuffy nose or skin rashes (red small patches, fluid-filled vesicles (small blisters) with or without itching. Sometimes mouth is also affected with lesions in chickenpox or measles. Many develop lymph nodes behind the earlobes, chin, and neck. They usually last for 3 to 10 days depending upon the disease that‘s involved it affects the whole body and they start subsiding in a week.
WHAT THE PEOPLE SHOULD UNDERSTAND!
All those exanthems, (Ammai diseases) are often caused by viral infections or allergic diseases. They are due to microorganisms and so infectious. Many of them recover spontaneously and hence the recovery is natural but we falsely attribute this recovery to the austerity measures which we follow. What they need are isolation, correct diagnosis and specific and symptomatic treatment.
One of the very common exanthems is chickenpox. There is an excellent specific antiviral drug available for this condition and taking this drug not only shortens the duration but also lessens the severity. Taking antipruritic relieves itching and prevent post pox scars. The paradox is people are prompt in following the immunisation schedule (most of them prevent viral exanthems) but once the child develops these exanthemas consulting the doctor is the last resort for them!
Name any viral exanthems, you have a scientifically proven cause, blaming it on a higher source for such exanthema delays the diagnosis and causes complications. There are numerous skin bullous diseases (characterised by the occurrence of extensive fluid-filled blisters all over the body) that mimic exanthema. Those diseases and drug eruptions are all misdiagnosed or self-diagnosed as exanthems and by the time the disease becomes more advanced and extensive only then they consult the doctor.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO?
Exanthems are viral and allergic. Please consult a proper specialist (skin specialist) to ascertain the cause. Many can be treated with specific drugs. As I mentioned already, other mimicking skin diseases can be diagnosed earlier and treatment instituted well in advance will ensure correct and timely management.
– Dr. Ashokkumar, Dermatologist.