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Scarlet Fever Symptoms

Posted on December 5th, 2022

Scarlet fever is a contagious infection that mostly affects young children. It’s easily treated with antibiotics.

Check if you have scarlet fever:

The first signs of scarlet fever can be flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature, a sore throat and swollen neck glands (a large lump on the side of your neck).

A rash appears 12 to 48 hours later. It looks like small, raised bumps and starts on the chest and tummy, then spreads. The rash makes your skin feel rough, like sandpaper.

On white skin the rash looks pink or red.  It may be harder to see on brown and black skin, but you can still feel it.

Credit: BIOPHOTO ASSOCIATES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

A white coating also appears on the tongue. This peels, leaving the tongue red, swollen and covered in little bumps (called “strawberry tongue”).

Credit:BIOPHOTO ASSOCIATES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

The rash does not appear on the face, but the cheeks can look red. The redness may be harder to see on brown and black skin.

Credit:BIOPHOTO ASSOCIATES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

The symptoms are the same for children and adults, although scarlet fever is less common in adults.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if you or your child:

  • have scarlet fever symptoms
  • do not get better in a week (after seeing a GP)
  • have scarlet fever and chickenpox at the same time
  • are ill again, weeks after scarlet fever got better – this can be a sign of a complication, such as rheumatic fever
  • are feeling unwell and have been in contact with someone who has scarlet fever
  • Scarlet fever is very easily spread. Check with a GP before you go in. They may suggest a phone consultation.

 

Further information here on Scarlet fever from the NHS (www.nhs.uk)

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