Scarlet Fever and Strep Throat Rash and Other Signs and Symptoms

Tatheer Zehra Zaidi   by Tatheer Zehra Zaidi, M. Pharma    Last updated on April 21, 2021,

scarlet fever and strep throat rash

Strep throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can make your throat feel sore and irritating. Strep throat accounts for a small portion of all sore throats.

Strep throat is most common in children, but it can affect people of all ages. If you or your child has signs or symptoms of strep throat, you should immediately book an appointment with a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. If left untreated, strep throat can cause complications associated with bones, joints, and kidney.

Read more about strep throat.

Signs and symptoms of strep throat: What does strep throat look like?

Common signs and symptoms of strep throat are:

  • Throat pain
  • Rashes
  • Nausea or vomiting it is more common in young children
  • Body ache
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • A sudden high fever
  • Headache
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • Small red spots at the back of the roof of the mouth
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Red throat with white patches

Is it strep throat? How can you tell if you have a strep throat?

In order to diagnose a strep throat, your doctor will conduct a rapid strep test or examine a sample taken on a throat swab in a lab for a culture.

Sometimes, your doctor is able to diagnose strep throat based on your signs and symptoms, such as white spots in the throat area, fever, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, rashes etc. He will observe your symptoms carefully in a physical exam.

He might see white dots or patches in the back of your throat. Your tonsils might be red and inflamed. There might be some signs of bacterial infection that the doctor will observe to differentiate them from a strep throat.

One of the common signs of a strep throat is strep throat rash.

Strep throat rash: How do strep throat rashes look like?

A strep throat is usually accompanied with rashes. In particular, if the strep throat remains untreated for a longer period, the bacteria may grow and cause complications that may involve strep throat rashes. Strep bacteria may spread and cause such as infections and other problems in these regions:

  • Tonsils
  • Blood
  • Ear
  • Skin
  • Sinuses
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Pneumonia  or other forms of lung infection
  • Toxic schock syndrome
  • Abscesses
  • Kidney problems
  • Inflammatory reactions such as scarlet fever

A strep throat rash may look like a red, sandpaper-like rash on the neck, underarm, or groin, a little after the signs and symptoms of strep infection starts. This could be a sign of scarlet fever. You should contact your doctor if you or a child shows any symptoms similar to a strep rash.

The release of a particular toxin in the body is responsible for the characteristic rash that is seen with scarlet fever. The rash usually begins on the chest, neck, and armpit regions and then spreads to other areas of the body.

The rash is often more clear and reddened in certain areas such as:

  • skin creases
  • neck
  • inguinal area
  • creases of the elbow
  • knee

Sometimes, capillaries may be ruptured in these areas to cause the rash to appear as lines (called Pastia lines).

The rash appears as fine and rough-textured (such as of a sandpaper), and contains multiple red lesions.

How long do strep throat rash last?

The rash may last about three to seven days. Once the rashes are gone, the skin begins to peel which may take a few weeks. The duration of skin peeling depends on the severity of the rash.

Inflammatory reactions and strep throat rash

Strep throat infection may cause inflammatory illnesses, such as scarlet fever, kidney inflammation, and rheumatic fever.

Scarlet fever is characterized by rashes. Other signs and symptoms of strep throat are sore throat, fever, headaches, swollen lymph nodes.

When to see a doctor if I notice rashes or other signs of strep throat?

Contact your doctor when you or your child:

  • Experiences sore throat accompanied with swollen lymph nodes, particularly of the sore throat lasts longer than 2 days
  • Has fever higher than 101 F (38.3 C)
  • Has problems swallowing
  • Is already going through strep throat treatment, but symptoms do not improve even after taking medicines for 2 days

You are particularly susceptible to strep throat if:

Several factors can increase your risk of strep throat infection:

  • you are young in age - strep throat most affects children
  • seasons – although a strep throat can occur anytime, it is more common in late fall and early spring, when strep bacteria grows fast

To prevent the infection, you should keep your hands clean, cover your mouth as you cough or sneeze, avoid sharing drinking bottles and glasses and eating utensils. 

Tatheer Zehra Zaidi

Tatheer Zehra Zaidi is a clinical pharmacist and pharmacologist with a master’s degree in pharmacy practice. She aims to deliver a positive contribution in the field of healthcare and research. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Jamia Hamdard New Delhi and then joined Spirant Communication Private LTD as a Medical content writer.


Currently she is working at Maxinov Solutions Private LTD as a research associate and is associated with DiseaseFix as a medical content writer. Tatheer’s areas of interest include clinical research, clinical trial disclosure, and pharmacovigilance.

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