Scarlet Fever in Children
Scarlet fever is most commonly seen in children under the age of 18. The most common symptoms seen in children include rash, sore throat, fever, and chills. Treating children who have scarlet fever usually involves antibiotics to cure the infection, and other treatments to relieve symptoms.
Scarlet fever (known in older medical literature as scarlatina) is an illness caused the same bacteria that cause strep throat. A person with scarlet fever most commonly develops a sore throat and rash. Scarlet fever is usually seen in children under the age of 18. For unknown reasons, scarlet fever has become less common in recent years.
Scarlet fever is an illness caused by bacteria called group A streptococcus. Group A streptococcus produces a toxin that causes the scarlet fever symptoms. Some children are sensitive to this toxin; others have developed immunity. This is why two children in the same household can have a strep infection, but only one may develop scarlet fever.
(Click What Causes Scarlet Fever? or Scarlet Fever Bacteria for more information on group A streptococcus.)
The time between infection and the first scarlet fever symptoms is called the scarlet fever incubation period. The scarlet fever incubation period in children is usually one to four days.
In children, the most common symptoms of scarlet fever include:
- Scarlet fever rash (see Scarlet Fever Pictures)
- Sore throat
- Reddened face
- Swollen lymph glands
- Tongue resembling a strawberry.
Other, less common symptoms of scarlet fever in children include:
- Body aches.
After the rash is gone, often the skin on the tips of the fingers and toes begins to peel.