Symptoms of meningitis can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all. In the early stages, there may not be a rash, or the rash may fade when pressure is applied.

You should get medical help immediately if you're concerned about yourself or your child.

Trust your instincts and do not wait for all the symptoms to appear or until a rash develops.

Symptoms of meningitis and sepsis include:

Babies may also:

Someone with meningitis or sepsis can get a lot worse very quickly.

Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E immediately if you think you or someone you look after could have meningitis or sepsis.

Call NHS 111 for advice if you're not sure if it's anything serious.

If you’ve had medical advice and are still worried or any symptoms get worse, get medical help again.

Meningitis rash

Blotchy meningitis rash on the leg and foot of a child. Shown on black skin.
The rash can be harder to see on brown or black skin. Check paler areas, such as the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, roof of the mouth, tummy, whites of the eyes or the inside of the eyelids.

If a rash does not fade under a glass, it can be a sign of sepsis (sometimes called septicaemia or blood poisoning) caused by meningitis and you should call 999 straight away.

Page last reviewed: 25 October 2022
Next review due: 25 October 2025