Skip to content

Information and Resources

Font Size
A
A
A

Understanding Scarlet Fever -- the Basics

What Is Scarlet Fever?

Scarlet fever is a childhood diseases that can be tamed by antibiotics -- if it’s recognized and treated.

The disease occurs mostly in children between the ages of 2 and 10 years. It's caused by infection with group A streptococcal bacteria -- the same bacteria that causes strep throat. Symptoms typically appear three days after exposure to another person with the illness, although the incubation period can be anywhere from one to seven days.

Recommended Related to Children's Vaccines

Hepatitis A and B Vaccines

Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are two members of a family of closely related diseases -- the others being hepatitis C, D, and E -- that are caused by a viral infection. Although the virus that causes each is different - along with their modes of transmission -- the diseases are similar. Hepatitis is marked by liver inflammation, and the consequences of getting the disease are potentially serious and, in some cases, fatal. Although there are no vaccines for hepatitis C, D, or E, there are safe...

Read the Hepatitis A and B Vaccines article > >

Symptoms of scarlet fever typically include a fever over 101 degrees and a red, sore throat. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, headache, and abdominal pain. A distinctive scarlet rash appears -- first on the neck and chest and then all over the body. The rash feels like sandpaper. In areas of skin folds -- the armpits and the creases at the elbows and the groin -- the rash has a bright red color. The tongue also becomes swollen and turns bright red. After two to seven days the rash usually disappears, but the tongue may remain swollen for several more days.

As the rash fades, there may be skin peeling around the tips of the fingers and toes and in the groin area.

CAUTION! - Seek Treatment

Scarlet fever should not be left to run its course. It can lead to serious complications such as kidney problems and rheumatic fever (affecting the joints, heart, and other organs).

What Causes Scarlet Fever?

Scarlet fever is a contagious infection that is caused by streptococcal bacteria. It is spread by contact with nasal or mouth fluids from an infected person.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 11, 2015

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

sore foot
3 warning signs.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
psoriasis
What it looks like.
checking blood sugar
Symptoms and treatment.
man behind computer screen
10 possible causes.
Woman with itchy watery eyes
Common triggers.
man screaming
Making sense of symptoms.
human liver
What puts you at risk?
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.
two male hands
Understanding RA.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.