accessibility & help

Baby and Child First Aid

Questions and answers aboutmeningitis

Here are some questions people often ask. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to email us at firstaid@redcross.org.uk or use this form.

Q

What is meningitis?

Answer
Answer

Meningitis is a disorder in which the linings that surround the brain and spinal cord swell up. It can be caused by different types of bacteria or a virus, and can happen to anyone at any age.

Close
Q

Will the symptoms be different for a baby?

Answer
Answer

Babies may have any of the same symptoms as those described previously. In addition, they may also have a high-pitched cry, or become floppy. The soft part (fontanelle) on the top of their head may become hard or bulging.

Close
Q

Should I wait for all the symptoms to appear before calling 999?

Answer
Answer

No, you should call 999 as soon as you suspect it may be meningitis. Do not wait for all the symptoms to appear. Without immediate treatment, meningitis can cause permanent damage.

Close
Q

What does the rash look like?

Answer
Answer

The rash is made up of small red/purple ‘pin prick’ spots that may spread to look like fresh bruising. The rash is more difficult to see on dark skin. Rashes usually appear in the later stages of meningitis and sometimes do not appear at all.

Close
Q

How do I check if a rash is a sign of meningitis?

Answer
Answer

Press the side of a clear glass against the skin with the rash - most rashes will fade when pressed. If you can still see the rash through the glass, it is possibly meningitis.

If you suspect meningitis but your baby or child does not have a rash, call 999 immediately. Do not wait for a rash to appear. 

Close

Why not explore more?

Related Tags:

Related

First aid symbol

Baby and Child First Aid app

An adult hand holding a baby's hand, with screenshot of the Baby and Child First Aid app

Keep the little ones safe with our free first aid app for Apple and Android.

View more >