Strep rash also known as strep throat or scarlet fever is a bacterial infection affecting the tonsillar and soft palate region. The streptococcus pyogenes (also called GAS, Group A Strep) bacterial family has been identified as the cause of strep rash. It is a common type of bacteria that can live in the human body for months without causing harm.
When the strep bacteria turns aggressive, it attacks the body with a toxic inflammatory substances that causes a range of symptoms including a distinctive skin rash. When this happens, the illness is called scarlet fever.
Strep throat is highly contagious and spreads most during winter months. Though they show no symptoms, a number of healthy people are carriers of strep throat; they however, do not spread the offensive bacteria. Strep throat is most common in children and adolescents but affects children as well.
Signs and symptoms of strep rash
Strep throat affects people of different ages with varying effects. Symptoms begin one to three days after exposure to the bacteria. Adults and adolescents suffer a number of core symptoms including sore red throat with white patches, swollen lymph nodes in the neck region and sudden fever of 101 Fahrenheit. A patient may experience headaches of varying severity as well as chills, stomach upset and nausea.
There are a number of warning signs alerting those suffering from strep throat to get treatment in time. The commonest sign is a fine reddish rash that appears on the neck, chest, groin, inner thighs, armpits and elbows. The patient’s may have redness or dark red spots on the uvula (punching bag structure hanging from the soft palate) back of the throat or the roof of the mouth.
The tonsils may have a bumpy golf-like surface that exudes a purulent discharge. The tongue may also be unusually red and spotted, in what is known as a strawberry tongue. Halitosis or bad breath caused by ‘white spots’ formed by petechie (bright red dots representing ruptured capillaries) is another distinct sign.
The signs and symptoms of strep rash manifest themselves differently in the common age groups. Infants below twelve months typically suffer a thicker purulent nasal discharge, lack of appetite, low fever and irritableness.
Toddlers between one and three years may experience pain swallowing, sore throat, lack of appetite and swollen lymph nodes. Adults generally do not suffer severe symptoms and may even forego treatment when a case is not severe enough to prompt a hospital visit.
GAS bacteria are highly contagious and can be spread through airborne droplets or sharing personal items like spoons. The bacteria are also spread by contact and can be picked up from surfaces an infected person has touched then transferred to the mouth or nose.
When to see the doctor
If you suspect strep rash, you must go to the doctor immediately especially if you have a history of strep infection or suffer the following symptoms:
- A persistent sore throat lasting longer than 48 hours,
- High fever beyond 101F
- A diffuse rash on the body
- Trouble breathing.
Note that sore throat accompanied by cold or flu symptoms is not strep rash, but a viral sore throat that dissipates on its own or is easily cured by the right antibiotics.
There are two common tests used to determine whether someone suffering the above symptoms has contracted strep rash. The typical throat culture test sees the doctor swab the back of the throat and tonsils for a sample. The laboratory test for determining the presence of strep bacteria takes up to 48 hours.
The more common diagnosis method is the rapid strep test (RADT), which produces conclusive results much faster. Though only 95% accurate, the RADT kit takes 10 minutes to deliver results on the throat culture. These tests determine whether the patient has a strep infection, but there are tests to determine if an individual has history of strep infection, which may point to a more serious problem.
Strep Rash – Pictures
Strep rash is treated though a combination of antibiotics, home remedies and over the counter medication. The symptoms of strep throat can be managed with home remedies before medical attention is sought. Over the counter medications like Advil and ibuprofen relieve pain and inflammation in the throat. Lozenges are designed to relieve throat pain and keep it moist to reduce inflammation.
Using a humidifier in the room also helps keep the throat and mouth from drying out. Gargling regularly with warm salt water moistens the throat, reduces pain and disinfects. Drink warm beverages adding honey and lemon to herbal teas instead of sugar. Cold beverages on frozen desserts like popsicles are thought to sooth the throat.
If untreated, strep rash can spread infection to areas like tonsils, sinuses, skin, blood and middle ear. It has been tied to development of illnesses like acute rheumatic fever, glomerulonephritis or acute inflammation of kidneys, and toxic shock syndrome.
Filed in: Skin Problems