Scarlet fever

Signs, symptoms & GP treatment of scarlet fever in children

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Scarlet fever is an infection caused by the Group A streptococcus bacteria, the same bacteria which causes tonsillitis & pneumonia, & other skin & respiratory tract infections. It is a serious infection, which must be treated with antibiotics.

Please make an appointment to bring your child in to see a GP if you suspect that they have scarlet fever, or are showing any of the above symptoms. The doctor will examine your child & ask you about their symptoms. A throat swab may be taken in order to send to the lab for testing & confirming a diagnosis. If you child has scarlet fever, you will receive a prescription for antibiotics. This is included in the cost of your consultation.


Scarlet fever is a highly infectious bacterial illness. Thanks to antibiotics, it is now less common than it was in the past, & can be treated effectively. This infection usually affects children from age 5 to 15, particularly those under the age of 10, & is more common in the winter months. Scarlet fever spreads in the same was as a cold or flu, in salivary droplets found in the coughs & sneezes of someone who has the infection.

It’s important to be aware of the signs & symptoms of scarlet fever, both because it is so infectious & because it can lead to more serious health complications. Sometimes it can follow on from a case of strep throat.


Do I need to treat scarlet fever with antibiotics, or can I wait for it to clear up on its own?

Taking antibiotics reduces the severity of the infection, speeds up the recovery process, & most importantly, reduces the risk of complications which are common with this illness.

Is there a vaccination that my child can have to prevent scarlet fever?

There is no vaccine against scarlet fever. Preventative measures are the same as those for cold & flu (washing hands regularly, not sharing utensils, sneezing & coughing into tissues to avoid spreading germs). If you know that your child has been exposed to an infected person, it is important to be on the lookout for any symptoms associated with the infection.

At what point should I bring my child in for an appointment to see the doctor?

If you are at all worried about your child’s health, it is a good idea to make an appointment for them to see a GP. Many serious infections share symptoms with colds & flu, so trust your intuition. If you feel that something is not right, give us a call.