Scarlet fever is a bacterial illness that develops in some people who have strep throat. As the name implies, the condition is signified by a bright red rash that covers most of the body.
Scarlet fever is most common in children five to 15 years of age. Although it was once considered a serious childhood illness, antibiotic treatments have made scarlet fever much more treatable. Still, if left untreated, scarlet fever can result in serious conditions that can affect the heart, kidneys, lungs and other parts of the body.
Common symptoms of scarlet fever include:
- Red rash.The rash looks like a sunburn and feels like sandpaper. It typically begins on the face or neck and spreads to the trunk, arms and legs. If pressure is applied to the reddened skin, it will turn pale.
- Red lines.The folds of skin around the groin, armpits, elbows, knees and neck usually become a deeper red than the surrounding rash.
- Flushed face.The face may appear flushed with a pale ring around the mouth.
- Strawberry tongue.The tongue generally looks red and bumpy, and it’s often covered with a white coating early in the disease.
The rash and the redness in the face and tongue usually last about a week. After these signs and symptoms have subsided, the skin affected by the rash often peels. Other signs and symptoms associated with scarlet fever include fever, sore throat, enlarged glands, nausea, vomiting and headache.
Scarlet fever typically spreads from person to person via droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person will usually develop symptoms between two and four days after being exposed.
There is no vaccine to prevent scarlet fever. The best prevention strategies for scarlet fever is to practice proper hand washing hygiene, avoid sharing utensils or drinking glasses, wipe down all contaminated objects and surfaces and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze.
Call your doctor immediately if your child develops any symptoms associated with scarlet fever.
To make an appointment at Flushing Hospital’s pediatric clinic, please call 718-670-5486.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.