Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina)

Overview of Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina)

Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria known as group A Streptococcus. These bacteria make a toxin in the body which causes a reddish rash to appear on the skin.

Signs and Symptoms of Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina)

Scarlet fever is common among children. It is characterized by a sore throat and a rash. Doctors generally use a strep test to confirm the presence of this fever. Antibiotics play a vital role in the treatment of scarlet fever.

What is scarlet fever?

Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria known as group A Streptococcus. These bacteria make a toxin in the body which causes a reddish rash to appear on the skin. It develops in people who have strep throat. Scarlet fever is always accompanied by a high fever and a sore throat.
Scarlet fever is typically found among children aged 5 to 10 years of age. Antibiotics are majorly used to treat this fever. Without proper and timely medical assistance, it can cause some serious complications in the body and start affecting the heart, kidneys, and other major organs.

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Types of Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina)

Look out for these signs and symptom of scarlet fever:

  • Red rash - this rash may appear like a sunburn rash with a sand-paper like texture. Initially, it appears on the face and neck and then spreads to the arms, the trunk, and legs.
  • Deeper red lines - the folds of the skin in armpits, elbows, and knees may become darker than the typical color of the rash.
  • Strawberry tongue - Swollen and blotchy tongue with a bumpy surface is also a symptom of scarlet fever.
  • Whitish coating - in the initial stages of the fever, the tongue may have a whitish coating.
  • Sore throat and high fever - extremely sore throat followed by a high fever
  • Swollen glands - swollen glans also indicate the occurrence of this disease.

Some people might feel headaches, body pains, nausea, and abdominal pain.


Risk Factors of Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina)

As mentioned above, scarlet fever is caused by:

  • A group of bacteria known as group A Streptococcus or Streptococcus pyogenic bacteria which can survive in your mouth and nasal passage.
  • Humans are the prime source of these bacteria. A toxin produced by these bacteria causes redness on the body.

Is scarlet fever contagious?

This infection is highly contagious and you can transmit it to others around you unknowingly. I can be transmitted through droplets emitted by a sick person when he/she coughs, sneezes, or through their nasal secretions.
Direct contact with an infected person can make you highly susceptible to acquiring this infection. Using the same utensils can also make you more vulnerable to this infection.
In some people, this infection can cause a skin infection known as Cellulitis. This skin infection can also transmit bacteria to others around you. Keep that in mind that touching the rash of a sick person will not spread the bacteria as the rash is the result of a toxin, not the bacteria itself.



The main risk factor of scarlet fever is coming in direct contact with a sick person. Some other possible risk factors may include:

  • Already having rheumatic fever
  • Some underlying kidney disease
  • Ear infections
  • Abscesses in throat
  • Pneumonia
  • Arthritis

Timely and effectively treating scarlet fever through a course of antibiotics can result in the prevention of ear infections, throat abscesses, and pneumonia. Other complications however are associated with the immune system of the body. The stronger the immune system, the less complications there will be.



Practicing these simple tips can help you lead a healthy life generally. These include:

  • Regularly washing hands
  • Covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough
  • Washing hands after sneezing or coughing
  • Keeping your utensils and drinking glasses separate especially in group settings.

Simple household remedies can also help provide you some relief. But keep in mind that you cannot self treat this fever. You can also contact for more information and treatment options.

Treatment of Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina) | When to Consult a Doctor

As soon as you feel any of the symptoms, contact your general physician. He will first perform a physical examination and especially check your throat, tongue, and tonsils. he/she will also examine the lymph nodes. Enlarged lymph nodes indicate the presence of an infection. The appearance and texture of rash also determine the extent of this fever.
A throat swab is also taken to analyze the condition of the cells. This swab will be tested for the presence of group A Streptococcus. This is a rapid test and does not require much time. In Pakistan, you can contact any of your nearest hospitals or visit NIH, PIMS, CMH, or MH. you can get the tests done at their respective diagnostic centers.

Doctors to treat Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina)

Last updated on Monday 21/11/2022


Dr. Muhammad Asif Siddiqui

Pediatrician | MBBS, FCPS , FCPS(Neonatal Medicine),PGPN, IPPN,CHPE , CHR

National Hospital & Medical CenterRs 2000


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Highly recommended. Very good doctor


Dr. Shahid Aslam

Neonatologist, Pediatrician | MBBS , MRCP , MRCPCH

Doctors HospitalRs 2500


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Highly Recommended


Dr. Tariq Rafiq Khan

Neonatologist, Pediatrician | MBBS, MD, DABP, FAAP

Pediatric ClinicRs 2500


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Highly Recommended

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