Scarlet Fever in Children and Young People

The first symptoms of scarlet fever are flu-like: a high temperature, sore throat and swollen glands (glands in the neck) and then a rash that starts on the chest and tummy and then spreads. The rash looks rough to the touch (like sandpaper) and is red in colour. The rash is not itchy but can be uncomfortable. The rash may fade after 24 hours but patients are still infectious until they have completed their antibiotic course. Children should stay away from nursery and school and adults should not go to work until a full course of antibiotics has been taken.

What are the first signs of scarlet fever?

It is rare for scarlet fever to cause complications, but it can lead to a severe infection of the deeper tissues (necrotizing fasciitis), or rheumatic fever, which affects the heart. In the past before antibiotics were available, rheumatic fever was very common and caused severe damage to many parts of the body.

Scarlet fever is not usually scarlatina la adulti seen in babies or children under the age of three, but it can occur in older children and young adults. It can be a scary illness for them to have, and they will need help from their parents or carer.

If a doctor suspects that someone has scarlet fever, they will take a rapid strep test and probably a throat culture. A throat culture takes more time and can find infections that a rapid strep test misses. A throat culture is important for children and teens because they have a higher risk of developing rheumatic fever. In adults it is not so important as they are less likely to develop rheumatic fever.

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