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What is Scarlet Fever?

Scarlet Fever is referred to as a bacterial illness that develops in most people who have strep throat and is also known as Scarlatina. Scarlet Fever is visible with a bright red rash that covers most of the body. Scarlet Fever is usually followed by a sore throat and a high fever.

This illness is most common in children aged between 5 to 15 years old. Scarlet Fever has always been known as a serious childhood illness, but antibiotic treatments have made it less life threatening. If this illness is left untreated, it can cause serious problems that affect different parts of the body.


Symptoms of Scarlet Fever

  • A red rash: This rash feels like sandpaper and looks like typical sunburn. It starts off on the face or neck and then spread to the trunk, arms, and legs. Pressure must not be applied to the red skin, otherwise it will turn pale.
  • Red lines: The folds and linings of skin around the groin, armpits, elbows, knees, and neck also become a deeper red than the surrounding rash.
  • A flushed face: Your face may look flushed with a pale ring around the area of the mouth.
  • Strawberry Tongue: The tongue will usually look red and bumpy, and will be mostly covered with a white coating early in the disease.

Symptoms normally last for a week or two. The rash often peels after the signs and symptoms have gone away. Other signs and symptoms of Scarlet Fever include:

  • A fever of 101 F or higher, this often happens with chills
  • A very sore, red throat, white or yellowish patches
  • Having difficulty swallowing
  • Enlarged glands in the neck that are tender to the touch
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches

When should one see a doctor?

  • When the fever is 102 F or higher
  • Swollen or tender glands in the neck
  • A red rash

Causes of Scarlet Fever

Scarlet Fever is caused by the same bacteria that causes strep throat. When you have Scarlet Fever, the bacteria expels toxins that cause the rash and red tongue.

Scarlet Fever spreads from person to person through saliva droplets that are expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In this period, the time between exposure and illness is commonly two to four days.

Risk factors

Children between 5 - 15 years of age are more likely to contract Scarlet flu than any other age group. The germs the cause Scarlet Fever are spread more easily among people that are in close proximity with each other, such as family members or classmates.


If Scarlet Fever is not being it can spread to the;

  • Tonsils
  • Lungs
  • The skin
  • Kidneys
  • Blood
  • Middle ear

Scarlet Fever can lead to Rheumatic Fever, but this is rare. Rheumatic Fever is a serious condition that can affect:

  • Your heart
  • Your joints
  • Nervous system
  • The skin



Your doctor will check inside your mouth to look at the condition of your throat, tonsils and tongue, feel your neck to check if your lymph nodes are enlarged as well as feel the texture of the rash.

Throat swabs

If the doctor thinks that strep is the cause of the illness, he will swab the tonsils and back of the throat to take cells or materials out that may harbor the strep bacteria – this is called a culture.

Tests have to be done for strep bacteria because it is important to diagnose this condition early on and obtain the correct treatment as different treatments may be required. If there is no strep bacteria present in the throat, another bacterium may be identified as the culprit for the illness.


Treatments for Scarlet Fever


An antibiotic will be prescribed if your child has been diagnosed with Scarlet Fever. You have to make sure that your child completes the full course of medication. If you do not follow the treatment guidelines, the illness may not be completely eliminated, and it may increase your child's risk of having other complications.





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