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Post Category: Infections

Scarlet Fever – A WonderBaba Guide

scareltfeverwonderbabaScarlet Fever is a rare bacterial illness which causes a red-pink rash with the feel of sand paper. It can start in one area but spread to many.  It often causes a flushed looking red face which gives rise to the name scarlet fever and is also referred to sometimes in mild forms as scarlatina.  It is caused by  haemolytic streptococci which is a member of the streptococcus group of bacteria.  It most commonly affects children between the ages of four and eight and often affects people who have been in contact with someone with a streptococcal throat or skin infection.  Children under two have some immunity from their mothers and children over ten will have developed immunity themselves to the toxins from streptoccal bacteria.


A child can start to show symptoms of scarlet fever within one to seven days of exposure.

  • Rash – Your child will often suffer from the other symptoms of scarlet fever as described below for a day or two before the rash appears. The rash generally starts with red blotches which develops into the characteristic pink-red rash which feels like sandpaper. It is often referred to as looking like sunburn.  It most commonly starts on the torso and spreads to other areas like the legs, arms and groin areas.  The face is generally not affected by the rash itself but does tend to become flushed which can be a distinguishing feature.  The rash tends to last around one week and like some other skin infections it can cause peeling of the skin on the hands and feet for a scarletfevertonguefew weeks after.
  • High temperature
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Swollen tongue – with a white coating which will peel leaving the tongue red and tender.
  • Nausea/vomiting/loss of appetite
  • Swollen neck glands


doctor-logo-red-white-mdIf you suspect scarlet fever see your GP.  They will most likely prescribe a ten day course of an antibiotic called penicillin (or an alternative if your child has an allergy).  Using an antibiotic is important in scarlet fever to speed up your childs recovery but also to reduce the length of time that they remain contagious.  If they take the antibiotic they will be able to return to childcare after 24 hours but if they do not receive an antibiotic they will remain contagious for one to two weeks after they first developed symptoms.  So whilst it is a rare illness in Ireland now and most cases are mild it is still important to seek medical attention if you suspect your child may have Scarlet Fever. Your child may appear better within a day or two of starting treatment but as with all infections it is important to finish the course of antibiotics.  If scarlet fever is untreated there is the risk of developing complications such as a throat abscess, ear infection, or pneumonia.  Very rarely untreated scarlet fever can result in complications such as blood poisoning, toxic shock syndrome and damage to the kidneys.  It is important to seek medical attention if your child’s condition is not improving with treatment of antibiotics.

How to help at home:

Other than the antibiotic treatment you can try to alleviate your child’s symptoms.


Women who come in contact with streptococcal infections around their due date should advise their healthcare professionals however there is no evidence to suggest that your baby would be at risk.

I hope you have found this article helpful and if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me by sending a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page ( or by calling me (Sheena) at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262. I’m always happy to help!



Author: WonderBaba Blog

My name is Sheena Mitchell and I'm a pharmacist with my own business Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6. From working in the pharmacy I've realised that there are a lot of first time and experienced moms who might benefit from hints and tips from a pharmacist who can balance healthcare advice with real hands on experience from my important work as a mother of two! I hope to bring you regular advice and information and answer questions that you have! Being a mother and pharmacist are my two favorite things and I'm delighted to have this way of bringing my two worlds together! All questions and queries are gratefully received but otherwise sit back, relax, and let the solutions come to you!