Scarlet Fever

Scarlet Fever
Scarlet Fever

Overview Of Scarlet Fever

Scarlet fever is caused by an infection with bacteria called A streptococcus. This is the same bacteria that cause strep throat.

Commonly Associated With

Scarlatina; Strep infection; Streptococcus

Causes Of Scarlet Fever

This was once a very serious childhood disease, but now it is easy to treat. The streptococcal bacteria that cause it produce a toxin that leads to the red rash the illness is named for.

The main risk factor for getting the disease is infection with the bacteria that cause strep throat. An outbreak of strep throat or this disease in the community, neighborhood, or school may increase the risk of infection.

Symptoms Of Scarlet Fever

The time between infection and symptoms is short, most often 1 to 2 days. The illness will likely begin with a fever and sore throat.

The rash first appears on the neck and chest, then spreads over the body. People say it feels like sandpaper. The texture of the rash is more important than the appearance to confirm the diagnosis. The rash can last for more than a week. As the rash fades, the skin around the fingertips, toes, and groin area may peel.

Other symptoms of scarlet fever include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • The bright red color in the creases of the underarm and groin
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • General discomfort (malaise)
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen, red tongue (strawberry tongue)
  • Vomiting

Exams & Tests

Your health care provider may check for scarlet fever by doing :

  • Physical examination
  • Throat culture that shows bacteria from group A streptococcus
  • Throat swab to do a test called rapid antigen detection

Treatment Of Scarlet Fever

Antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria that cause throat infection. This is crucial to prevent rheumatic fever, a serious complication of strep throat and this disease.