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Scarlet Fever Rash – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Contagious, Pictures

Last reviewed by Editorial Team on August 13th, 2018.


What is Scarlet fever rash?

This is not a medical condition but rather a symptom of scarlet fever.  Scarlet fever itself is a bacterial illness that some people will develop who have a case of strep throat.  Another name for it is scarlatina.  Scarlet fever more commonly affects children from the age of five to fifteen years old but it can happen to anyone.  In past it was a childhood disease that was considered serious.  Now with the invention of antibiotics scarlet fever is not as serious or threatening.  The rash will start to fade in five days but can stay up to three weeks.


As mentioned scarlet fever rash is the symptom.  The rash is what gave this disease its name because the rash gives the body a “scarlet look.”  The rash makes the person look like they have a really bad sunburn but it makes your skin feel like sandpaper and can be very itchy.  It will generally start on your neck or face and spread to your legs, arms, and trunk.  If you apply pressure to the areas of the skin that are red the skin will become pale.  You may also have a flushed face with a ring around your mouth that is pale.  In the creases of your armpits, elbows, neck, knees, and groin you will see a deeper shade of red than the color of the rash.  A person may also have, along with the scarlet fever rash, what is called a “strawberry tongue.”  Your tongue will usually look bumpy and red and in the start of the disease the tongue may also be covered with a coating that is white.  The rash, along with the redness in your tongue and face, will normally last about seven days.  After all the symptoms have disappeared the skin that was covered by the scarlet fever rash will often peel.  You may also have a high fever over one hundred one degrees along with the chills, and a very red sore throat that may have yellowish or white patches.  Your lymph nodes could also be enlarged, have vomiting or just feel nauseous, difficulty swallowing, and a headache.


The cause of having the scarlet fever rash is of course scarlet fever.  The disease itself is caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria.  It is also the same bacteria that give people strep throat.  When a person has scarlet fever the bacteria will release a substance that causes a person to have the red tongue and scarlet fever rash.


In order to get rid of scarlet fever rash your physician will prescribe an antibiotic for ten days which you need to make sure that you finish, even if you feel better before you are done with the antibiotic.  Because you may have a very sore throat you should drink liquids or just eat soft foods so as to not irritate your throat.  You should make sure that you are drinking enough fluids to keep from being dehydrated.  Scarlet fever rash is usually itchy so try not to scratch and cause an infection.  You can apply anti-itch medication that you can get over-the-counter.  You can also soak in a tub of warm water with some oatmeal in it.  If the itch is really intense you can talk to your physician about getting a prescription for a stronger anti-itch medication.  You can also apply Calamine lotion to help reduce itching.

Is scarlet fever rash contagious?

Scarlet fever rash in itself is not contagious but scarlet fever is.  You can spread the infection from one person to another via the droplets that are expelled when a person who has scarlet fever sneezes or coughs.  The time between exposure and illness, called the incubation period, is two to four days.

Scarlet Fever Rash Pictures

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