Scarlet Fever Rash

Scarlet fever which is also known as scarlatina is an infectious condition which makes a patient have fever, sore throat, and a rash. Group A Streptococcus infection is associated with this condition. This is the same bacteria, which is responsible in causing the strep throat condition and other skin infections like erysipelas and impetigo. The group Astreptococcus bacteria makes toxins or poisons, which cause the rash to appear on an infected child.

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The rash is the most striking sign of the disease. Not all kids are sensitive to the toxin produced by the streptococci bacteria. In addition, not all streptococci bacteria produce this toxin. Scarlet fever occurs in childhood and mainly between the age of 2 and 10 years. However, it can also occur in older children and adults but on rare occasions. The condition is so contiguous meaning that it can easily be spread from one person to another.

Scarlet fever rash symptoms

The scarlet fever rash looks like sunburns and it feels like sandpaper. This rash begins on the face and neck and then spreads to other areas like the trunk, legs and arms. When the reddened skin is exerted with pressure, it turns pale. The skin folds on armpits, groin, knees, elbow, and neck are deeper red when compared to the surrounding skin. The face of the patient appears flushed and it has a pale ring around the mouth.

The tongue looks red and bumpy or what is known as strawberry tongue. The tongue is also covered with white coating especially during the early stages of the disease. Usually the rash on face lasts for about one week. When the red rash and red line as well as flushed face symptoms subside, the skin that is affected by the rash peels off. There are other symptoms, which are associated with scarlet fever rash, and they include fever, sore and red throat that at times form white and yellow patches. There is also a difficulty in swallowing. There is enlargement of glands in the neck or the lymph nodes. Nausea and vomiting as well as headache are other symptoms of the condition.


Scarlet fever is caused by a bacteria streptococcus pyogenes that produce exotoxins. The characteristic scarlet colored rash occurs as a result of release of particular toxins when a person is infected with the bacteria. In most of the cases, the scarlet fever is caused by pharyngeal streptococcal infection, which causes strep throat but at other rare occasions, the disease can be caused by infection by streptococcal at other sites like the skin.

This condition can occur anytime but it is more prevalent in winter and spring. The streptococcal bacterium is spread through airborne respiratory droplets from people infected with the condition. It may also be spread from individuals who carry the bacteria but they do not experience symptoms (asymptomatic carriers).

A person can also get the disease after being in contact with secretions from an infected person. In rare circumstances, it can be caused by food-borne outbreaks. The spread of the disease tends to be high in crowded environment where people infected with the condition come in close contact with uninfected persons such as in schools.


Diagnosis of the condition may be done by use of cotton swab that is placed at the back of the throat and tonsils. This helps detect scarlet fever associated with strep throat. A rapid antigen test or rapid strep test can produce results in a few minutes. A throat culture is more sensitive and may require a period of about 24 to 48 years to produce results. Complete blood count may be done to help determine the infection. If the streptococcal infection arises from other sites, other examinations may need to be conducted to confirm the disease.

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Treatment is mainly done with use of antibiotics. These medications are curative and can prevent potential complications of the disease. They also shorten the duration in which the symptoms last by about one day. Moreover, use of antibiotics reduces the contiguousness of the disease. When people with scarlet fever take antibiotics for at least 24 hours, they are not contagious.

It is essential for patients to complete the prescribed full dozes of the antibiotics in order to prevent any complications. If an early cessation of antibiotics occurs, it can lead to insufficient treatment of the infection something that increases the risks of developing other complications like acute rheumatic fever.

Majority of the scarlet fever infections can be managed at home but when the complications are serious, further medical attention is needed. Unless there is serious complications of the disease, an individual with the condition can use over the counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen to reduce pain and fever. Fluid intake and adequate rest is needed to help speed up the recovery. If a patient with the condition has pharyngitis, then throat lozenges may help offer short-term relief for minor sore throat. A patient may need to gargle with use of warm salt water.

Scarlet Fever Rash Pictures

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