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Scarlet Fever Symptoms & Diagnosis


The first signs of strep throat are:

  • A red, swollen throat
  • Fever above 101°F

If strep is diagnosed and treated with antibiotics, the infection may progress to scarlet fever.

Additional symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • White or yellow coating on the tongue
  • Bright red tongue ("strawberry tongue")
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Body aches
  • Chills


Scarlet fever has a characteristic rash. Small red spots usually appear on the neck and chest within 24-48 hours after onset of the illness. This rash will spread quickly over the body to the abdomen, arms, and legs. The rash feels rough, like sand paper, and the redness blanches with pressure. There may also be flushing in the face with paleness around the mouth. Elbows, underarms, and other body crease areas may show red streaks called "Pastia's lines." In 7-10 days, the rash will peel off.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. The doctor will swab the back of your throat for testing. The sample may be sent to a lab for a throat culture or a rapid strep antigen test ("rapid" strep test) may be done in the office.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2022 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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