Scarlet fever is an infection which produces a sore throat, fever, and a specific rash.
Scarlet fever is caused by specific bacteria. The bacteria produces a toxin that causes a rash. Scarlet fever usually develops in conjunction with strep throat.
Factors that may increase your chance of scarlet fever include:
Symptoms may include:
In rare cases, untreated strep throat infection may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may diagnose scarlet fever by the specific rash. Confirmation of scarlet fever can be done with a throat swab or rapid strep antigen detection test.
The infection that causes scarlet fever can be treated with antibiotics. It is important to take all the prescribed medication. Doing so will prevent scarlet fever from returning, and also prevent complications.
There is no specific treatment for the rash. After the rash fades, the skin peels for several weeks.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Nemours Kids Health
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
McKinnon HD Jr, Howard T. Evaluating the febrile patient with a rash. Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(4):804-816.
Scarlet fever. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 10, 2012. Accessed January 16, 2015.
Streptococcal infections. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious_diseases/gram-positive_cocci/streptococcal_infections.html. Updated April 2013. Accessed January 16, 2015.
Streptococcus. PEMSoft at EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Accessed January 16, 2015.
Last reviewed February 2016 by David L Horn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.