Scarlet fever is contagious to people who come into close contact with an infected child.
Complications are rare but can include deeper tissue infections, rheumatic fever, and kidney disease.
- Scarlet fever is rare in children under the age of 2, because substances from the mother's immune system (antibodies) protect the child up to that age.
- The peak ages for infection are 4–8 years. By age 10, most children have developed their own immunity to the toxin.
- Because infection is spread by fluids from the airways (respiratory secretions), infection rates are higher in crowded situations.
Fever, chills, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite may occur.
When the throat is the main area of infection, the tonsils may become enlarged, red, and tender. Other areas (lymph nodes) in the neck may become swollen. At first, the tongue has a white coating, giving a "white strawberry" tongue appearance, which then falls off (sheds) to reveal a bright red strawberry tongue. The rash does not affect the palms and soles at first, but later on, these areas may peel. The rash usually lasts for 4–5 days, and as it fades (subsides), skin on the neck and face start to peel, and eventually the hands and feet start to peel as well.
- Keep eating and clothing items used by an ill child away from other people, and wash them in hot soapy water.
- The child's caregivers should wash their hands frequently.
- Keep the child comfortable with acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen for fever relief.
- Have your child eat soft foods, drink plenty of liquids, and apply lotions such as calamine for itching, if needed.