Rash and Fever
General or Other | General Practice | Rash and Fever (Symptom)
The rash is the most striking sign of scarlet fever. It usually begins looking like a bad sunburn with tiny bumps and it may itch. The rash usually appears first on the neck and face, often leaving a clear unaffected area around the mouth. It spreads to the chest and back, then to the rest of the body. In body creases, especially around the underarms and elbows, the rash forms classic red streaks. Areas of rash usually turn white when you press on them. By the sixth day of the infection the rash usually fades, but the affected skin may begin to peel.
Aside from the rash, there are usually other symptoms that help to confirm a diagnosis of scarlet fever, including a reddened sore throat, a fever above 101° Fahrenheit (38. 3° Celsius), and swollen glands in the neck. The tonsils and back of the throat may be covered with a whitish coating, or appear red, swollen, and dotted with whitish or yellowish specks of pus. Early in the infection, the tongue may have a whitish or yellowish coating.
Scarlet fever is caused by an infection with group A streptococcus bacteria. The bacteria make a toxin (poison) that can cause the scarlet-coloured rash from which the illness gets its name.