Scarlet Fever – (Scarlatina)

by Dr. Lyndsey Garbi and Tigist Demeke | July 30, 2020
Fever Rash Skin

Scarlet fever, also known as scarlatina, is an illness that develops from Group A Streptococcus, the bacteria that causes strep throat. It presents itself on the body usually after having strep throat with a red rash that feels like fine sandpaper. A sore throat, red face, and a fever can also come with scarlet fever.

Scarlet fever is most common around ages 5 through 15 years old.  Your pediatrician can treat it with antibiotics and it improves within 24 hours with the rash taking about 3-5 days to go away. You may see peeling of the skin in areas where the rash was most intense. Without the proper treatment from your child’s pediatrician, scarlet fever can become more serious, and create other complications.

General Symptoms

Here are some signs that your child has scarlet fever:

  • A flushed face
  • Fever
  • Lines around the body that are red
  • Sandpaper-like red rash on trunk, arms, and legs
  • “Strawberry tongue”

When should I take a trip to my child’s doctor?

If your child has:

  • A red rash
  • A fever of 102℉ (38.9℃) and higher
  • Glands on the neck that are swollen or tender
  • Sore throat

Causes of Scarlet Fever

The same bacteria that causes strep also plays a part in scarlatina. In this illness, the bacteria releases a sort of toxin that results in the presentation described above.

This can spread to others with tiny droplets in the air, through just a simple cough or sneeze, your child can be easily infected. It takes 2-4 days for someone who has been exposed to scarlet fever to start to feel ill, this is also called the incubation period.

Methods to easily prevent scarlet fever 

Unfortunately there isn’t a vaccine that has been created yet to stop this illness, but there are some simple things you and your child could do to take precautions.

  • Washing your hands is the most recommended, as it can prevent germs from spreading.
  • Covering your mouth and nose when sneezing. Sneezing or coughing towards your inner elbow will stop the tiny droplets from releasing into the air.
  • Not sharing any food or utensils. You should let your child know to not share his/hers glasses or foods with their friends.


Your doctor will prescribe your child with an antibiotic if he/her has scarlet fever. Completing the medication is key to quick treatment. Your child should be able to go back to school after taking antibiotics for more than 24 hours, and show no signs of a fever.