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Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is a contagious bacterial infection that causes a blotchy rash. It mostly affects young children.

The main symptom of scarlet fever is a red, blotchy rash. You may have other symptoms for a few days before the rash appears.

Scarlet fever is treated with antibiotics. You can ease symptoms by drinking cool fluids, eating soft foods and taking painkillers.

Read more on the NHS website.

The main symptom of scarlet fever is a red, blotchy rash. You may have other symptoms for a few days before the rash appears.

Check if you have scarlet fever

The first signs of scarlet fever can be flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature of 38C or above, a sore throat and swollen neck glands (a large lump on the side of your neck).

A rash appears a few days later.

A red, patchy rash on a young child with white skin's chest and tummy.The rash feels like sandpaper and starts on the chest and tummy. On lighter skin it looks pink or red. On darker skin it can be more difficult to see, but you can still feel it.

A red and swollen tongue with a white coating.A white coating also appears on the tongue. This peels, leaving it red and swollen ("strawberry tongue").

A red, patchy rash on a young child with white skin's face.The rash does not appear on the face, but the cheeks can be flushed.

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

Read more on the NHS website.

Scarlet fever is treated with antibiotics. You can ease symptoms by drinking cool fluids, eating soft foods and taking painkillers.

Medical treatments

Your GP will prescribe antibiotics. These will:

  • help you get better quicker
  • reduce the risk of serious illnesses, such as pneumonia
  • make it less likely that you'll pass the infection on to someone else

Important

Keep taking the antibiotics until they're finished, even if you feel better.

Self-care

You can relieve symptoms of scarlet fever by:

  • drinking cool fluids
  • eating soft foods if you have a sore throat
  • taking painkillers like paracetamol to bring down a temperature (do not give aspirin to children under 16)
  • using calamine lotion or antihistamine tablets to stop itching

Read more on the NHS website.