What Causes a Strep Pharyngitis Rash?

Marjorie McAtee

A strep pharyngitis rash can occur as a complication of strep throat pharyngitis, also known as strep throat infection. The strep pharyngitis rash doesn't affect all people who get strep throat infections. Experts believe that the skin rash occurs only in those who are allergic to the toxins that streptococcus bacteria release.

An untreated strep throat can cause serious complications.
An untreated strep throat can cause serious complications.

Strep throat pharyngitis, an inflammation of the pharnyx and tonsils usually caused by a strain of streptococcus bacteria, is believed to be most common in persons aged five to 15. Strep throat can lead to serious complications, including rheumatic fever and scarlet fever, if not treated promptly.

Strep pharyngitis infections are diagnosed by culturing a sample of from the back of the throat.
Strep pharyngitis infections are diagnosed by culturing a sample of from the back of the throat.

Symptoms of strep throat infection can include a sudden fever. The fever associated with active strep throat infection usually reaches its highest temperature on the second day of the infection. The throat may feel sore, and become inflamed, and white spots may appear in the back of the throat. Nausea, chills, upset stomach, and headache often accompany this infection, along with general feelings of illness. Lowered appetite, inability to taste foods as normal, swelling of lymph glands in the throat, and trouble swallowing also usually accompany a strep throat infection.

In addition to a rash, symptoms of strep pharyngitis may include fever and fatigue.
In addition to a rash, symptoms of strep pharyngitis may include fever and fatigue.

There are several strains of streptococcus bacteria that can cause strep throat infections in humans. Not all of these strains are capable of causing the skin rash known as strep pharyngitis rash. Strains that can cause strep pharyngitis rash may vary from one person to the next, since the rash is believed to be the result of an allergic reaction to the toxins that streptococcus bacteria can release as part of their normal life cycle.

Antibiotic treatment is important to prevent possible complications from strep-related illnesses such as scarlet fever.
Antibiotic treatment is important to prevent possible complications from strep-related illnesses such as scarlet fever.

Strep throat infections can be diagnosed by culturing a swab from the back of the throat. Quick tests, which take about 10 to 20 minutes to give results, are generally used by health care providers to make a quick diagnosis. A quick diagnosis is generally recommended in children, who are considered to run the highest risk of dangerous complications. These quick tests aren't always accurate, however, and a second swab may be sent to a laboratory for a more thorough, accurate examination. Results of laboratory tests are normally returned within 24 to 48 hours.

Chills may accompany a strep throat infection.
Chills may accompany a strep throat infection.

Strep throat infections, and the strep pharyngitis rash, can generally be easily treated with a short course of antibiotics. Penicillin may be the most popular antibiotic for treating this infection, but other antibiotics are available for those who can't take penicillin. A 10-day course of antibiotics is usually prescribed. Persons suffering from strep throat infections may be considered contagious for 24 to 48 hours after beginning a 10-day course of antibiotics.

A strep pharyngitis rash may occur as a complication of strep throat pharyngitis.
A strep pharyngitis rash may occur as a complication of strep throat pharyngitis.
Gargling with warm salt water may help temporarily soothe a sore throat.
Gargling with warm salt water may help temporarily soothe a sore throat.
A strep infection will cause a sore throat, and possibly cause the throat to become inflamed.
A strep infection will cause a sore throat, and possibly cause the throat to become inflamed.

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Discussion Comments

serenesurface

I've had strep pharyngitis rash before. It's a very odd looking rash. It almost looks like sunburn because it tends to appear on the face and torso. In fact, I had a few people ask me how I got sun-burnt in the middle of winter.

ZipLine

@SarahGen-- Scarlet fever is just a type of strep throat or strep pharyngitis. My doctor told me that scarlet fever is strep throat with a rash, but there are different strains of strep and not all of them cause scarlet fever.

You need to take your daughter to the doctor and have her tested for strep. That's the only way you will not for sure what type of infection she has. But if she has fever, nausea, sore throat and a red rash that feels like sandpaper, she probably has scarlet fever.

In terms of treatment, all strep infections require antibiotics. The sooner you get your daughter treated, the faster she will recover.

SarahGen

I don't understand the difference between strep throat and scarlet fever.

My daughter has all of strep symptoms, including a rash. Some online sources say strep pharyngitis and others say scarlet fever. What is the difference? And does it matter in terms of treatment?

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