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Scarlet fever


Scarlet fever is an infectious disease that mainly affects children. It is mainly due to group A streptococcus that secretes a toxic molecule, but other bacteria are also possible. Scarlet fever is typically developed in a context of a sore throat, after an incubation period of about four days, and is relatively easily transmitted through droplets of saliva.


A patient who has scarlet fever in its classical form will show the following signs:
  • initially, high fever around 40° C, of sudden onset;
  • headache and sore throat;
  • swollen and sensitive neck glands;
  • then, a bright red rash may appear a few hours after the onset of the sore throat, first on the chest, abdomen, neck and limbs, and finally over the entire body, except the hands and feet. The tongue of the patient will be covered with a white coating that turns red after a few days.
  • in ten days, the rash disappears, and the skin begins to flake.


A clinical examination is sufficient to diagnose scarlet fever. However, throat cultures may be performed to detect the presence of a streptococcus, which will confirm the diagnosis.


If it is left untreated, scarlet fever can cause rare but serious complications.
The treatment of scarlet fever is mainly based on:
  • rest during the treatment;
  • a break from school for two days;
  • the prescription of antibiotics, typically amoxicillin.


There is no vaccine against scarlet fever. The best prevention is to keep away from infected persons, which is why staying home from school when infected is recommended.

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