Kids Home > Scarlet Fever Symptoms

Typically, within one to four days of being infected with the bacteria that cause scarlet fever, a person begins to develop signs and symptoms of scarlet fever. The most common symptoms include rash, fever, sore throat, and swollen glands in the neck. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and body aches.

Signs and Symptoms of Scarlet Fever: An Introduction

When a person becomes infected with group A streptococcus (the bacteria that cause scarlet fever), the bacteria begin to multiply inside the body. After one to four days, a person may begin to have scarlet fever symptoms. The time between infection and the first scarlet fever symptoms is called the scarlet fever incubation period.
 

Common Scarlet Fever Symptoms

The most common symptoms of scarlet fever tend to follow certain patterns. For example:
 
  • A rash first appears as tiny red bumps on the chest and abdomen (see Scarlet Fever Pictures). This rash may then spread all over the body, but usually does not affect the palms and soles. The rash looks like a sunburn and feels like a rough piece of sandpaper. It is usually redder in the armpits and groin areas. The rash typically lasts about six to nine days. After the rash is gone, the skin on the tips of the fingers and toes often begins to peel.
     
  • A fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius) or higher is common. Chills are often seen with the fever.
     
  • The face is flushed, with a pale area around the lips.
     
  • The throat is very red and sore. It can have white or yellow patches.
     
  • Glands in the neck are often swollen.
     
  • A whitish coating can appear on the surface of the tongue. The tongue itself looks like a strawberry, because the normal bumps on the tongue look bigger.
     
Other, less common scarlet fever symptoms include:
 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Body aches.
     
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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