10 Conditions the ER Can't Help You With

Rash and Skin Irritation
Poison ivy may make you itch like crazy, but you can treat that problem at home. ©norcon/Thinkstock

Emergency departments are required by the Emergency Medicine Treatment and Labor Act to care for any patient, even if that means just an exam to screen for whether the condition is actually a life-threatening emergency. You know what's not a life-threatening emergency? Accidentally coming in contact with poison ivy. Sure, that itch may be driving you mad, but it's not going to be your end. In fact, many rashes and skin irritations such as those caused by stress, environment or minor allergic reaction to common things —a new soap or that poison ivy — can be treated at home, with the advice of a primary care physician or nurse hotline if needed.

Some rashes, though, ARE emergency situations. Indicators of potentially life-threatening rashes that need emergency attention include:

  • Large amounts of blistering and peeling skin
  • Rashes accompanied by fainting or dizziness
  • Rashes that emerge soon after you take a new medication
  • Mouth sores so painful you can't sip water

If you're experiencing any of these rash symptoms, don't be shy about heading to the ER.