When does scarlet fever rash typically appear in patients with group A streptococcal (GAS) infections and how is it identified?

Updated: Sep 07, 2018
  • Author: Zartash Zafar Khan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Answer

Scarlet fever rash usually appears within 24-48 hours after onset of symptoms, although it may appear with the first signs of illness. It is often initially noticed on the neck and upper chest as a diffuse, finely papular, erythematous eruption producing a bright red discoloration of the skin that blanches on pressure. The texture is that of fine sandpaper.

The flexor skin creases, particularly in the antecubital fossae, may be unusually prominent (ie, Pastia lines). The area around the mouth is pale, creating the appearance of circumoral pallor. In severe cases, small vesicular lesions (ie, miliary sudamina) may appear on the abdomen, hands, and feet.

Toward the end of the first week of illness, the rash begins to fade and is followed by a desquamation over the trunk, which progresses to the hands and feet. Typical scarlet fever is not generally difficult to diagnose, but it may be confused with roseola, Kawasaki syndrome, drug eruptions, and toxigenic S aureus infections.


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