advice

how to spot and treat scarlet fever:
symptoms and treatment

Scarlet fever is less common than it used to be, but it's still worth staying aware of its symptoms. Here's how to spot the signs and get your child on the mend if they catch the infection.

baby with symptoms of scarlet fever

what is scarlet fever?

Scarlet fever gets its name from the pink-red rash it causes, but the first signs that your little one might have it include a sore throat, a headache, a high temperature, flushed cheeks, nausea and a swollen tongue. The rash will usually appear a day or two after these initial symptoms, starting on the chest or tummy before spreading.


If you're not sure about the rash, press a glass against it to check if it fades to white. If this doesn't happen, let your doctor know as there's a chance it could be meningitis.



baby with scarlet fever
baby with scarlet fever

who can catch scarlet fever?

While anyone of any age can catch the infection, it's most common amongst two-to-eight-year-olds; after the age of ten, most of us have developed a natural immunity. As it's very contagious, it's likely to affect those in close contact with others who have caught it, which is why outbreaks often occur in schools or nurseries. Once you've had it once, it's also incredibly rare to catch it again.


should i go to the doctor?

Although it tends to be a pretty mild illness, it's worth popping into your GP if you think your child might have it. They'll often be able to diagnose it from the symptoms alone, but they might also take a quick swab from your child's throat to double-check the diagnosis.


Your doctor will probably give you a course of antibiotics to speed their recovery along. It's likely they'll have to take the medicine for ten days, but they should be feeling better within four or five.


how to stop scarlett fever from spreading?

As this infection is so contagious, it's important to take a few steps to try to prevent any outbreaks. If your child has it, keep them snuggled up at home (and away from school or nursery) for at least 24 hours after starting their course of antibiotics.


Making sure they cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze. Regularly washing their hands also helps prevent its spread, as well as avoiding sharing cups, glasses, clothes, baths, bed linen and towels.