Recently my 13 year-old son had a fever and minor sore throat. When the skin on his trunk turned deep red I suspected a strep infection. He was seen by his pediatrician who took a culture which proved negative. He said it was viral. OK fine. The rash was flat and red, covering his trunk, with the rest of his body just pinkish. He looked as though he had a bad sunburn. He was itchy and uncomfortable. After about a week, the rash faded (the low fever lasted 3 days). The wierd thing was that all of the skin that had been affected peeled off, again like a sunburn. The peeling of his hands was especially disgusting. The skin came off in thick pieces. My husband commented that his finger skin came off like sausage casings. His feet were unaffected. At this point he was feeling fine, eating well, sleeping well, no fever, no other symptoms. Except for slight rawness on the palm of one hand, the new skin looked great. His only difficulties were catching up with his homework with peeling hands, and the embarassment of taking his shirt off in gym class! He is a competitve gymnast, which may account for the relative thickness of the skin on his hands. I mentioned the peeling to the doctor, who said if he seems fine don't worry. Well, he seems fine. I'm not worried, just curious. What might is have been?
P.S. He has 5 siblings at home who have not shown any similar symptoms, although 3 have had minor colds and one had swollen glands (looked mump-like).
You've given a good description of desquamation, or molting of the skin after a scarlatiniform (scarlet-fever-like) rash. This can occur after strep, or after a viral rash which looks like strep. Although the degree of your son's peeling is more than average, it has no significance, since there's a layer of new skin beneath it. The hands and feet peel most noticeably (no reason known.) He'll be good as new, though not necessarily any more obedient.
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