What are the symptoms of scarlet fever?

One of the most recognizable symptoms of scarlet fever is the red rash that a person develops when suffering from the disease. Other symptoms may include a tongue that has red bumps, also known as strawberry tongue, and a fever. Someone with scarlet fever may also develop red streaks within the folds of their skin, have a headache, or simply feel unwell. In addition, there may be vomiting, nausea, chills, and body aches. The tonsils and lymph nodes located in the neck can also become swollen.

The symptoms of scarlet fever occur when the bacteria Streptococcus (streptococcus) group A infects a person and releases toxins to which they are sensitive. These are the same bacteria responsible for strep throat, and in fact, a person with scarlet fever often gets it because they have strep throat. The disease can also occur due to a streptococcal skin infection, although this is rare.

A red rash, one of the symptoms of scarlet fever, is a hallmark of the disease. The rash usually consists of small bumps that give the skin the texture of sandpaper. This rash often starts on the neck and then progresses down the chest and arms until it covers the entire body, producing red streaks in the areas where the skin folds. Although the face does not develop a rash, it turns red, while the area around the mouth remains normal. After about six days, the rash will resolve and the skin may begin to peel.

Another symptom of scarlet fever is strawberry tongue. During the course of the disease, the tongue will have a white or yellowish coating. Red dots may also be visible. After four or five days, this white coating will peel off, leaving a red tongue with red dots. This is where the term "strawberry tongue" gets its name.

The patient may also develop a fever above 101°F (38.3°C) as one of the symptoms of scarlet fever. Tonsils may be swollen or red, have a white coating, or be stained with pus. Lymph nodes, organs often called lymph glands, located in the neck may also become enlarged. To treat the disease, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. With treatment, symptoms can go away in 10 days, but without treatment a person can remain contagious for up to three weeks.

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