Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever

You may have seen over the past few weeks that scarlet fever is making a comeback. So before your child comes down with the terrible rash, it’s important to know what it is, how to spot it and when to get your child treated.

What is scarlet fever?

Scarlet fever is an infectious disease caused by bacteria known as Streptococcal bacteria, this bacterium is spread by exhaled breath, coughing and sneezing, as well as skin contact. Streptococcus pyogenes then enter the body and multiply and symptoms occur 4-7 days after exposure. Symptoms include a sore throat, high fever, vomiting, rash and a bumpy red tongue (strawberry tongue – a white tongue with red sparkles) and a rash that feels like sandpaper. Scarlet fever is most common in children under 1 year of age and is treated with antibiotics.

First signs:

Scarlet fever usually starts with a rash on the chest or stomach before it spreads to other areas.


  • Sore throat
  • High fever
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Rapidly spreading rash on upper trunk and neck
  • Flushed face
  • Swollen neck glands
  • White or red tongue
  • Abdominal pain

What should you do?

Eating is normally painful for children with sore throat, so it’s best to serve them soft or liquid foods. Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids and give them over the counter medication for the fever and pain.

If your child has a rash as well as a sore throat, fever or swollen glands, it’s important to get medical attention, call your local GP practice or out of hours to speak to a doctor. In Wales you can also use the 111 service for non emergencies. This is especially important if your child has symptoms of strep throat.


Your child’s doctor should prescribe antibiotics for your child to take if he or she suspects scarlet fever. This should cure the infection within 10 or so days, though your child’s swollen glands and tonsils might take a few weeks to return to normal.

Preventing the spread?

In order to prevent other family members becoming infected, ensure that you practice good hygiene, clean your hand regularly and make sure your child covers their mouth when sneezing or coughing. Make sure to keep your infected child’s dishes, glasses and utensils, as well as their toothbrush away from those of other family members and wash them well in hot soapy water.

Further reading.

Further reading can be done on the NHS choices website.

Did you miss our previous blog on Lyme Disease? If so click the hyperlink to have a read.

First aid training and more information:

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