Briefly discusses scarlet fever, a term used for strep throat with a rash. Covers symptoms like red rash on chest, on abdomen, and in skin folds. Covers how it is treated. Also covers complications.
What is scarlet fever?
Scarlet fever is a term
strep throat with a rash. Scarlet fever is most common
in children ages 2 to 10, but it can affect people of any age.
What causes scarlet fever?
Scarlet fever is caused
by streptococcal (strep) bacteria, the same bacteria that cause strep throat.
There are many different strains of strep bacteria, some of which cause more
serious illness than others. The type of strep that infects the throat and
causes scarlet fever is called group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of scarlet
fever are the same as the symptoms of strep throat (except for the rash). If
you or your child has the symptoms below, call your doctor. Symptoms
101°F (38.33°C) or
Sore throat and difficulty swallowing.
yellow spots or coating on the throat and tonsils.
nodes in the neck.
Other symptoms that appear before the rash, especially in
children, may include general body aches, headache, stomachache, nausea,
vomiting, or listlessness. Scarlet fever usually doesn't occur with cold
symptoms, such as sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, or cough.
more information on strep throat, see the topic
The most noticeable symptom
of scarlet fever is a rough, red rash that feels like fine sandpaper. The rash
usually appears 24 hours after the fever starts. The rash begins on the chest
and abdomen and then spreads over the rest of the body within 1 to 2 days. The
rash and redness are more apparent in skin folds, especially in the groin,
armpits, and elbow creases. It usually fades in about a week, and at that time
the skin may begin to peel.
After the skin starts to peel, bright
red spots may appear on the tongue, giving it an appearance called "strawberry
How is scarlet fever diagnosed?
scarlet fever is usually based on a medical history, an examination of the
throat, and a rapid strep test or throat culture to test for strep bacteria.
One or both of these tests are needed to confirm infection with strep bacteria.
How is it treated?
Scarlet fever and the strep
infection that causes it are treated with antibiotics.
American Public Health Association (2008). Streptococcal diseases caused by group A (beta hemolytic)
streptococci. In DL Heymann, ed., Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, 19th ed., pp. 577–587. Washington, DC: American
Public Health Association.
Ogle JW, Anderson MS (2011). Infections: Bacterial and spirochetal. In WW Hay et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 20th ed., pp. 1159–1220. New York: McGraw-Hill.
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