The signs and symptoms that give scarlet fever its name include:
- Red rash. The rash looks like a sunburn and feels like sandpaper. It typically begins on the face or neck and spreads to the trunk, arms and legs. If pressure is applied to the reddened skin, it will turn pale.
- Red lines. The folds of skin around the groin, armpits, elbows, knees and neck usually become a deeper red than the surrounding rash.
- Flushed face. The face may appear flushed with a pale ring around the mouth.
- Strawberry tongue. The tongue generally looks red and bumpy, and it's often covered with a white coating early in the disease.
The rash and the redness in the face and tongue usually last about a week. After these signs and symptoms have subsided, the skin affected by the rash often peels. Other signs and symptoms associated with scarlet fever include:
- Fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or higher, often with chills
- Very sore and red throat, sometimes with white or yellowish patches
- Difficulty swallowing
- Enlarged glands in the neck (lymph nodes) that are tender to the touch
- Nausea or vomiting
When to see a doctor
Talk to your doctor if your child has a sore throat with:
March 13, 2014
- A fever of 102 F (38.9 C) or higher
- Swollen or tender glands in the neck
- A red rash
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- Scarlet fever: A group A streptococcal infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/ScarletFever/. Accessed Oct. 22, 2013.
- Gibofsky A, et al. Epidemiology and pathogenesis of acute rheumatic fever. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 22, 2013.
- Wessels MR. Streptococcal pharyngitis. New England Journal of Medicine. 2011;364:648.
- Van Driel ML, et al. Different antibiotic treatments for group A streptococcal pharyngitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004406.pub3/abstract. Accessed Oct. 22, 2013.
- Get smart: Symptom relief. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/symptom-relief.html. Accessed Oct. 22, 2013.