• Scarlet Fever



    Scarlet fever is an infection which produces a sore throat , fever, and a specific rash.
    Sore Throat Due to Inflammation
    © 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.


    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 .

    Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your risk of getting scarlet fever include:
    • Untreated strep infection
    • Close contact with someone who has an untreated strep infection
    • Overcrowded conditions, such as a school or daycare


    Symptoms may include:
    • High fever
    • Specific, spreading rash that feels like sand paper
    • Flushing in the face with paleness around the mouth
    • Red streaks, called Pastia's lines, on elbows, underarms, and body creases
    • Swollen glands in the neck
    • Chills
    • Pain in the abdomen
    • Bright red tongue
    • Body aches
    • Headache
    • Vomiting
    In rare cases, untreated strep throat infection may cause:
    • Rheumatic fever
    • Kidney damage
    • Spread of the infection to other areas such as the ears, sinuses, or lungs
    • Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome
    • Local abscess


    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.


    To reduce your chances of getting scarlet fever, take these steps:
    • Avoid contact with people who have untreated strep infections.
    • Wash your hands frequently.
    • Have other household members or contacts tested for strep infection.


    Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

    Kids Health—The Nemours Foundation http://www.kidshealth.org


    AboutKidsHealth—The Hospital for Sick Children http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca

    Canadian Family Physician http://www.cfp.ca


    McKinnon HD Jr, Howard T. Evaluating the febrile patient with a rash. Am Fam Physician. 2000;62:804.

    Scarlet fever. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated October 10, 2012. Accessed January 16, 2015.

    Streptococcal infections. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious%5Fdiseases/gram-positive%5Fcocci/streptococcal%5Finfections.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.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.