What are the symptoms?
Those with scarlet fever usually experience a sore throat or a skin infection to begin with. Initial symptoms can also include a headache and a high temperature, as well as flushed cheeks and a swollen tongue.
A day or two later, the characteristic pinkish rash appears. It usually occurs on the chest and stomach before spreading to other areas of the body, such as the ears and neck.
When do the symptoms develop?
Usually, two to five days after infection. The period can be as short as one day or as long as seven days, though.
I’ve got a rash. Is it scarlet fever?
The NHS advises that the scarlet fever rash usually feels like sandpaper to touch and it may be itchy. On darker skin, the rash may be more difficult to see although its rough texture should be apparent.
How does it spread?
It’s very contagious. You can catch it via a number of ways – including breathing in infected people’s bacteria, touching the skin of a person with a streptococcal skin infection like impetigo, or sharing contaminated clothes, towels or baths.
Who is in danger?
Predominantly, cases of scarlet fever usually occur in children under the age of 10. Outbreaks often occur in nurseries and schools where children are in close contact with one another. People of any age can catch it, though.
I’ve had it before. Can I catch it again?
It’s possible to catch scarlet fever more than once, but this is rare. The symptoms of scarlet fever will only develop in people susceptible to toxins produced by the streptococcus bacteria. Most children over 10 years of age will have developed immunity to the toxins.
How is it treated?
Scarlet fever can be treated with liquid antibiotics, such as penicillin or amoxicillin. These should be taken for 10 days, though you may recover after four or five days.
If your child has scarlet fever, keep them away from nursery or school for at least 24 hours after starting treatment with antibiotics. Adults with the illness should also stay off work for at least 24 hours after starting treatment.