Joint pain and rash


Rash and joint pain are two symptoms that usually appear separately. A rash often occurs as part of a bacterial or viral infection or a fungal infection. Joint pain is a frequent companion of a flu-like infection, but can also be a sign of a chronic illness.
These include rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases from the so-called rheumatic group. If the rash and joint pain occur at the same time, this in some cases suggests a systemic disease. A systemic disease affects an entire organ system such as the blood and lymph systems or the musculoskeletal system (muscles and bones).
Several symptoms can appear at the same time. As with the joint occurrence of a rash and joint pain, one speaks of a symptom complex. In medical jargon, the term dermatitis-arthritis syndrome has emerged for the joint occurrence of skin and joint symptoms. A large number of diseases, some of which are rare, belong to the dermatitis-arthritis syndromes. The following sections explain in which diseases the symptom complex rash and joint pain occur more often.


The term dermatitis-arthritis syndromes encompasses several dozen diseases that cannot be discussed in detail at this point. This section lists the main diseases that accompany the joint occurrence of rash and joint pain. We make a difference Autoimmune diseases, Metabolic diseases, bacterial and viral Infections.

Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are based on a misdirected reaction of the immune system. The immune cells attack the body's own tissue instead of pathogens.
Please also read our article on this What is an autoimmune disease?

The proportion of dermatitis-arthritis syndromes that can be attributed to autoimmunological processes is large. This group includes a large number of diseases, some of which are rare, which is why we will limit ourselves to the most important ones. Probably the best-known disease for which an autoimmunological cause is assumed is rheumatoid arthritis, also known simply as "rheumatism". The joint pain occurs here because the cells of the immune system cover the synovial membrane (Synovia) attack and cause inflammation. In addition, skin rashes and the typical rheumatic nodules, small, painless indurations under the skin, can occur.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a disease that can manifest itself in a variety of ways. The SLE can affect all human organ systems. The spectrum of possible symptoms is correspondingly large. It is one of the dermatitis arthritis syndromes because rashes and joint pain can provide clues about the disease. In SLE, the rash typically appears on the face and extends over the cheeks and nose in a butterfly shape. The affected skin areas are very sensitive to sunlight.
In psoriasis, too, an autoimmunological component is assumed. In psoriatic arthritis, a complicated form of psoriasis, inflammation of the joints occurs, which occurs along with the typical skin symptoms.
The use of antibiotics has made another disease less common, with skin rashes and joint pain occurring at the same time. This is rheumatic fever, which can occur as an autoimmunological secondary disease after a bacterial throat infection with streptococci, such as scarlet fever.

Read more on the topic: Light therapy for psoriasis

Metabolic diseases

Skin symptoms and joint pain occur mainly in two metabolic diseases. With diabetes diabetes and at the goutthat on a greatly increased Uric acid level in the blood. Both diseases can cause joint pain, joint inflammation and skin changes or rashes. Pronounced itching of the skin (Pruritus) is possible in both diabetes mellitus and gout.
Read our articles on this Consequences of diabetes and Symptoms of gout

Bacterial infections

Pathogens such as bacteria and viruses can also trigger a rash with accompanying joint pain.

The bacterial infections that can be accompanied by rashes and joint pain include the Lyme disease and the syphilis. Both diseases are caused by spiral-shaped bacteria, so-called Spirochetes, which can evade elimination by the immune system in the body for years.
Lyme borreliosis has become a well-known disease in Germany due to intensive media presence. She is going through Tick ​​bites transfer.
Read our articles on this Rash after a tick bite and Symptoms of borreliosis

With the increasing spread of the condom, syphilis was considered a sexually transmitted disease and almost disappeared from Germany. However, due to the change in risk behavior during sexual intercourse, syphilis has clearly gained in importance again in recent years.
Please also read our article on this Symptoms of Syphilis

Viral infections

Viral infections affect in most cases several Organ systems and are therefore to be assessed as systemic diseases. In some, the rash and joint pain appear together as a complex of symptoms.
These include the rubella, a viral disease that mainly occurs in children and which has become rarer in Germany thanks to vaccination. Typical is a spottier Rubella rashwhich starts on the face and quickly spreads to the trunk. In about 30-50% of the cases a so-called occurs Polyarthritis, inflammation of multiple joints.

See also: Adult rubella

The immune deficiency disease AIDS runs in several stages. About 3-12 weeks after being infected with the HI virus (HIV), a flu-like appearance occurs in approx. 70% of cases, which is characterized by severe exhaustion, fever, lymph node swelling, skin rashes and joint pain. As a rule, the disease then changes to a state that can sometimes last for years and is mostly symptom-free. Then the severe immune deficiency, known as the AIDS stage, develops.
At this stage the body becomes generally susceptible to Infectious diseases, various Cancers and Autoimmune diseases. A common occurrence of rashes, muscle and joint pain is not uncommon.
Please also read our article on this Symptoms of AIDS

The dermatitis arthritis syndromes, i.e. those diseases that are accompanied by rashes and joint pain, also include measles and Infectious Mononucleosis, better known as Glandular Pfeiffer fever.
Read our articles on this Measles rash and glandular fever rash


To diagnose the rash, the dermatologist can use what is known as a reflected light microscope.

At the beginning of the diagnosis there is a doctor-patient conversation anamnese. The patient has the opportunity to provide detailed information about the duration of the complaints, the course of the disease, the type of pain and accompanying symptoms.
This is followed by a thorough physical examination that includes the affected joints and the rash. Depending on which specialist discipline the doctor belongs to, referrals can be made to other specialists. Among other things, a transfer to one is conceivable here Dermatologist or to one Rheumatologist. A blood test can provide information about the type of illness. If the doctor deems it appropriate, he or she may order special blood tests to check for possible autoimmune diseases as the cause of the symptoms.
Also one Virus diagnostics is possible with the help of blood samples. If the rash cannot be classified by looking at it normally, it can be examined with the help of a reflected light microscope. This is a strong magnifying glass with a light source, with which skin changes can be viewed greatly enlarged.
X-ray technology can help the cause of the Joint pain to examine more closely. In many cases, even a normal X-ray can help to confirm or refute a suspected diagnosis. Only in rare cases are invasive measures such as a Joint puncture necessary. Through this, a Joint effusion relieved and the liquid examined microscopically and in the laboratory.


Since joint pain and skin rashes can be a systemic disease that affects several organ systems, a Variety symptoms occur. Some of them should, if they occur, be described urgently to the doctor because they can give important information about the nature of the disease.
These include: severe exhaustion and a pronounced feeling of illness, fever or chills, loss of appetite and weight. Frequent infections of the upper respiratory tract, severely reddened and watery eyes or dry mucous membranes of the nose and throat area in connection with joint pain and skin rashes can also give rise to further examinations.
Frequent dry cough or coughing up sputum are also symptoms that should be considered. In the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus also occur mental Symptoms such as depression or even psychosis, also seizures are possible.

Fever with a rash and joint pain

Fever, that is, a body temperature of over 38 ° C, usually occurs when the immune system is dealing with a problem. As a rule, this means combating invading pathogens such as bacteria or viruses. As explained in previous sections, the appearance of a rash and joint pain can often be attributed to a infection lead back. High and sudden onset A fever can therefore provide an initial indication of a bacterial or viral cause of the symptoms. However, fever is not always associated with infection.
Even with autoimmune diseases, the immune system is heavily stressed. Here, however, it does not deal with alien intruders. Rather, the immune defense is now directed against the body's own components. In addition to a variety of other symptoms, fever can also develop. An example of this is this Rheumatic fever, which can occur as a secondary autoimmune disease after a bacterial throat infection. Fever occasionally also occurs in the acute episode rheumatoid arthritis on. In any case, a fever indicates that a doctor should be consulted in order to be able to recognize a disease that may require treatment in good time.
Please also read our article on this Rash and fever

Rash headache and joint pain

headache occurs as an unspecific general symptom in many diseases and is in very few cases a cause for concern. General symptoms consisting of fever, headache and body aches are mostly on one a flu-like infection or on the Virus flu to be returned (s. Flu symptoms)
Only rarely is there a serious illness behind the symptoms, so the course should be observed first. However, if a headache is associated with a high fever, unexplained rash, or joint pain, a doctor should be consulted to rule out a serious illness. If there are general symptoms similar to flu, for example, one at the same time rounded rash with central pale could be a Lyme disease that must be treated with antibiotics. Even if the symptoms are accompanied by a pronounced feeling of illness, loss of appetite or weight, the cause should be investigated.
Same thing when strong Fatigue and exhaustion occur. It is also true for these general symptoms that their cause is usually harmless in nature and that they accompany many, mostly harmless diseases. Fatigue and reduced performance are often to be understood as an expression of the immune system required in the context of the defense against pathogens. However, if the symptoms persist over a longer period of time, medical advice should be sought. A permanently decreased autoimmune disease. If exhaustion, pronounced tiredness, joint pain and skin rashes are common, it is possible that there is a systemic disease that requires targeted treatment.

Itching of rash and joint pain

Symptoms that do not immediately make one think of diabetes mellitus include joint pain, rashes, and itching of the skin. Nevertheless, precisely these complaints, especially if they occur over a long period of time, can be permanently increased Blood sugar level be due. With diabetes it is Infection risk permanently increased. The protective mechanisms of the skin are also limited, which is too frequent Fungal infections which are often accompanied by severe itching. (see skin fungus)
Furthermore, diabetics seem more prone to Joint disease to be of different kinds. The exact reason for this has not yet been researched and is the subject of various studies.
Please also read: Symptoms of diabetes
A permanently high level of uric acid in the blood is the cause of gout. Uric acid crystals are increasingly being deposited in the joints, where they lead to inflammation and severe joint pain that occurs in the form of attacks. Since the skin is also affected by the deposits, many sufferers also feel a pronounced and sometimes very agonizing effect itching.
A comparatively rare metabolic disease is that Hemochromatosis. It results in an increased absorption of iron from the small intestine and as a result iron deposits in various organs and joints. The joint deposits often cause chronic joint pain, while iron deposits in the liver cause lasting damage to the organ. If the damaged liver does not do its job, severe itching can develop in the end-stage of liver damage.
Please also read: Symptoms of hemochromatosis


Treatment and therapy for joint pain that occurs with skin rashes depends on the underlying cause. This also applies to the duration of the illness. Bacterial Infections can usually deal well with these days Antibiotics are treated and therefore take an uncomplicated course in most cases. This is especially true for Lyme disease, which requires antibiotic treatment for 10 to 30 days, but then usually heals without consequences. (see therapy of borreliosis)
The situation is different with autoimmune diseases. These tend to have a complicated, chronic course with regularly recurring flare-ups. A causal therapy of the disease is not possible. Various drugs are available to modern medicine that are intended to suppress the unwanted immune reaction. However, these therapies are sometimes very expensive, complicated and have many side effects.


In the case of bacterial and viral infections, the duration of the illness is limited to a few days to a few weeks with targeted treatment. The therapy time is not uncommon for autoimmune diseases lifelong and requires the active participation of the patient in therapy planning and design. The treatment of metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus and gout is also important permanent change in life and, if necessary, therapy beforehand.

Rash and joint pain in young child

Joint pain and rashes in toddlers should always be taken seriously. The child must be presented to a pediatrician. Standing in early childhood Viral infections in the foreground. The dermatitis arthritis syndromes of childhood include in the area of ​​viral infections rubella, Ringlet rubella (Erythema infectiosum), Pfeiffer's glandular fever (mononucleosis infectiosa) and, more rarely, measles. In many cases, the pediatrician can determine which disease is probably just by looking at the shape of the rash.
Bacterial causes such as Lyme disease can also occur in childhood. With childhood illness Scarlet fever, which is a strep throat infection, you may experience reddening of the skin. Joint problems are also a possible long-term consequence. Occasionally, some of the autoimmune diseases described above also occur in childhood. Since these require consistent treatment, it is advisable to consult a doctor with the child at an early stage.