Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Scarlet Fever Overview

What is scarlet fever?
A child with scarlet fever has a sore throat and a rash, caused by an infection by strep bacteria. After the bacteria infect the throat, the bacteria produce a toxin that causes the scarlet fever rash. Scarlet fever is most common in children who are 6 to 12 years old. Scarlet fever occurs in about 10 percent of children with strep throat.

What are the symptoms of scarlet fever?
Symptoms of scarlet fever include fever, sore throat, rash, and a swollen, red tongue. The rash feels like sandpaper to the touch. The rash starts on the neck, chest, or back, and then spreads to the arms and legs.

How does the doctor treat scarlet fever?
Treatment for scarlet fever includes rest, plenty of liquids, sore throat lozenges, antibiotics, and acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain and fever.

Continue to Scarlet Fever Incidence

Last Updated: Aug 5, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Scarlet Fever References
  1. Duncan CJ, Duncan SR, Scott S. The dynamics of scarlet fever epidemics in England and Wales in the 19th century. Epidemiol Infect. 1996 Dec;117(3):493-9. [8972674]
  2. Lau SK, Woo PC, Yuen KY. Toxic scarlet fever complicating cellulitis: early clinical diagnosis is crucial to prevent a fatal outcome. New Microbiol. 2004 Apr;27(2):203-6. [15164635]
  3. Musser JM, Nelson K, Selander RK, Gerlach D, Huang JC, Kapur V, Kanjilal S. Temporal variation in bacterial disease frequency: molecular population genetic analysis of scarlet fever epidemics in Ottawa and in eastern Germany. J Infect Dis. 1993 Mar;167(3):759-62. [8440944]
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