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Scarlet Fever

A streptococcal infection, mainly occurring among children, that is characterized by a red skin rash, sore throat, and fever.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Scarlet Fever

Thanks to antibiotics many bacterial infections can be effectively treated, including scarlet fever, which mainly affects children. Before the development of penicillin it could have severe complications, but nowadays the symptoms of scarlet fever are usually quite mild. But it is still important to take precautions so that no one else is infected.


Scarlet fever may cause the following symptoms:

A dark-red tongue is also typical of scarlet fever — it is sometimes referred to as a "strawberry tongue."... Read more about Scarlet Fever

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Safety of Vaccines Used for Routine Immunization in the United States

To conduct a systematic review of the literature on the safety of vaccines recommended for routine immunization of children, adolescents, and adults in the United States as of 2011.

Respiratory Tract Infections - Antibiotic Prescribing: Prescribing of Antibiotics for Self-Limiting Respiratory Tract Infections in Adults and Children in Primary Care

Respiratory tract infection (RTI) is defined as any infectious disease of the upper or lower respiratory tract. Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) include the common cold, laryngitis, pharyngitis/tonsillitis, acute rhinitis, acute rhinosinusitis and acute otitis media. Lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) include acute bronchitis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia and tracheitis. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for RTIs in adults and children in primary care. General practice consultation rates in England and Wales show that a quarter of the population will visit their GP because of an RTI each year (Ashworth et al. 2005). RTIs are the reason for 60% of all antibiotic prescribing in general practice, and this constitutes a significant cost to the NHS. Annual prescribing costs for acute cough alone exceed £15 million (Lindbaek 2006).

Summaries for consumers

Scarlet fever: Overview

A doctor can usually diagnose scarlet fever fairly quickly based on its typical rash and a dark-red tongue, sometimes referred to as a “strawberry tongue.” Serious complications are very rare nowadays, and because scarlet fever is caused by bacteria, antibiotics are an effective treatment.

Fever in children: When is it a good idea to go to the doctor?

When children have a fever, the cause is usually a harmless viral infection. Fever in children is only very rarely a sign of a serious illness. But it is important for parents to be able to tell the difference.If a child has a fever, parents may ask themselves the following questions: Is it something serious? Should I call the doctor? Does the fever need to be lowered?Parents are in the best position to judge whether their child is behaving abnormally – for instance reacting differently to them or to a toy. The child may be much less active, feel very unwell or stop drinking. Their judgment and experience are very important, and can also be of help to the pediatrician.

Fever in children: Overview

Nearly all parents will know what it is like to feel concerned when their child has a hot, red face and high temperature. Although most fevers in children are caused by harmless viral infections, it is still important for parents to know how to recognize the signs of a serious illness, and when to see a doctor.

More about Scarlet Fever

Photo of a child

Also called: Scarlatina

See Also: Strep Throat

Other terms to know:
Lymph Nodes, Pharynx (Throat), Streptococcal Infections (Strep Infections)

Related articles:
Fever in Children

Keep up with systematic reviews on Scarlet Fever:


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