Scarlet fever is an infection which produces a sore throat, fever, and a specific rash.
Sore Throat Due to Inflammation
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Scarlet fever is caused by specific bacteria. The bacteria produces a toxin that causes a rash. Scarlet fever usually develops in conjunction with strep throat.
Factors that may increase the chances of scarlet fever:
Symptoms may include:
In rare cases, untreated strep throat infection may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may diagnose scarlet fever by the specific rash. Confirmation of scarlet fever can be done with a throat swab or rapid strep antigen detection test.
The infection that causes scarlet fever can be treated with antibiotics. It is important to take all the prescribed medication. Doing so will prevent scarlet fever from returning, and also prevent complications.
There is no specific treatment for the rash. After the rash fades, the skin peels for several weeks.
To help reduce the chances of scarlet fever:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Kids Health—Nemours Foundation
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
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McKinnon HD Jr, Howard T. Evaluating the febrile patient with a rash. Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(4):804-816.
Streptococcal infections. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Updated September 2017. Accessed February 15, 2018.
Streptococcus. PEMSoft at EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://pemsoft.ebscohost.com/content/PPacCore/UID188658.html . Accessed February 15, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 1/13/2014