Can a Skin Rash Be a Sign of Heart Disease?


Skin rashes can be a sign of heart disease - it is one of the symptoms that healthcare providers look out for in potential heart-related conditions.

With the skin being the largest organ of the body, it often provides information about our heart health and other internal organs. For further symptoms of health disease, see the list below.

Symptoms of heart disease

  • Chest pain        
  • Being out of breath easily
  • An uncomfortable feeling of tightness or restrictiveness around the chest area 
  • Achy joints and muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Unusually swollen hands, ankles and/or feet1 
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness (especially when standing up)
  • A decrease in concentration levels and focus
  • Feeling more irritable than usual
  • Blue tinge to mouth (cyanosis)2
  • Blood pressure too high or too low (bradycardia)3 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain

Can skin rashes be a sign of heart disease?

Each rash related to heart disease presents itself differently, depending on the condition. Rashes vary in colour, texture, and location on the body. Some rashes are more painful and itchy, while others report no discomfort.

Here are some examples of rashes and the heart conditions which they represent.

Types of rashes 

Kawasaki disease

One common example of a rash-related heart condition is Kawasaki disease, usually seen in children ages 0-5.4 The UK Kawasaki Disease Foundation reports that Kawasaki disease can lead to over 1,000 hospital admissions each year.

The disease is capable of causing long-term damage to the heart if not treated quickly. Rashes usually present as red blotches on the trunk of the body. Peeling skin is often noted around the hands and feet. The rash is often described as itchy and uncomfortable, although no blisters are usually seen on the rash.

Rheumatic heart disease

It has been reported that rheumatic heart disease is responsible for around 250,000 deaths per year. Rheumatic heart disease is often linked to rheumatic fever, an inflammatory disease.5

It is common among children or anybody who has contracted a streptococcal infection. Adults and children with low immunity have a higher risk of developing this disease. The infection can reach the heart area and weaken the heart valve, which can cause long-term damage to the heart tissue. 

The rheumatic heart disease rash typically has a bumpy appearance and is normally spotted around the chest, back and abdomen. It is also often described to resemble a lattice or grid-shaped pattern. 

To prevent rheumatic heart disease, the streptococcal infection must be treated as soon as possible to stop the infection from causing any further damage to the heart.

Cardiac amyloidosis

Cardiac amyloidosis is a rare disorder that can affect various organs in the body as well as the heart. It is usually either a genetic or an age-related condition caused by the build-up of abnormal proteins, which clog up organ and heart tissue.

Cardiac amyloidosis is a difficult disease to diagnose because, in the beginning, there are no symptoms. The disease inflames different parts of the body at the same time.

Although it is a serious illness, it can be controlled if diagnosed early enough. There is still a lot of research being conducted on cardiac amyloidosis at the time of writing this article. The rash associated with this heart disease appears as waxy skin lesions around the face and neck, including the eyelids. This illness is more common among the Chinese population. 


Endocarditis is a rare heart problem often triggered by an episode of scarlet fever or strep throat infection. Not just the physically ill or people with weakened immune systems can contract this disease, unlike rheumatic heart disease (mentioned above).

People with healthy immunities are susceptible too. The rash tends to appear as red or purple spots along the hands and feet and/or red or purple spots under your fingernails. 

Also, it is sometimes seen inside the mouth and the outer layer of the eyes. These rashes and spots can feel tender to the touch.

Other causes of heart disease

Infections and autoimmune disorders

Another common cause of heart conditions is autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and rheumatic fever. Low immunity is more likely to attack the heart valve and weaken the muscles. This allows a higher possibility of infections around the heart area compared to a more healthy immune system, which would be more likely to protect itself. Children who are still building up their immunity are also more susceptible to such infections and contagious diseases.

In April 2020, The National Health Service in the UK reported a global rise in multi-inflammatory diseases in young people and children due to the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle are major factors of heart-related conditions, especially in Western society. This is due to a diet high in fat and salt intake, along with a sedentary lifestyle. This contributes to high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, sometimes palpitations (tachycardia).

One sign of high cholesterol level is swollen and raised bumps over the skin, otherwise known as eruptive xanthomatosis - a rare condition where abnormal protein builds up around the arteries. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help your heart to stay healthy.

Stasis dermatitis

Stasis dermatitis, or venous eczema, is a skin disease that suggests an underlying heart condition. The classic symptoms are swollen lower legs and feet, accompanied by a rash around the same area. The rash is often flakey and itchy.

Stasis dermatitis could be a sign of a kidney or heart problem. Congestive heart failure is often associated with stasis dermatitis.6 It means the blood in the veins is not flowing as smoothly as it should be. Recognising this condition early on can stop it from becoming more serious, so please see your healthcare provider if concerned. 

Here are some other factors linked to cardiovascular disease:

  • Kidney disease 
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight or underweight
  • Adults over 65
  • Smokers
  • Genetic factors
  • COVID-19
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Feeling overly stressed
  • High alcohol intake
  • Poor diet
  • High red meat intake


Rashes on the body can be a sign of heart disease. There are often other symptoms too. If you are concerned that you might have a heart problem, please seek professional help. The quicker a diagnosis, the higher probability of the correct treatment and medical support.


  1. Heart disease: 12 warning signs that appear on your skin [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 14].
  2. cyanosis pubmed - Syndic8 Yahoo Search Results [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 14]. Available from:
  3. Bradycardia: Slow Heart Rate. [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 14]. Available from:
  4. Societi - The UK Kawasaki Disease Foundation. Societi [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 14]. Available from:
  5. Dass C, Kanmanthareddy A. Rheumatic Heart Disease. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2022 Apr 14]. Available from:
  6. Congestive Heart Failure: Prevention, Treatment and Research [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 14]. Available from:


Temple J, N, Wilson, T, Jacobs, R, D. Nutritional health: strategies for disease prevention. Humana Press. Totowa; 2006,p.111-127.

Further reading

  • Adeyinka, A, Kondamudi, NP. Cyanosis: Continuing education activity. (2021). Available from
  • Flugman, L S. Stasis dermatitis (2020) Available at https:www.//
  • American Kidney Fund. Heart disease: How does kidney failure lead to heart disease? (2022). Available from: 
  • Nord. Rare disease database: Amyloidosis. (2018). Available at
  • Rowley, H, A. Nature reviews.Immunology: Understanding SARS-COV-2-related multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. (no date). Available at
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Ellen Theobald

Bachelor of Arts - BA, Professional and Creative Writing, St Benedicts Derby
Ellen is an experienced Medical Writer.

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