Scarlet fever is a common childhood infection caused by Streptococcus pyogenes or group A Streptococcus (GAS). The early symptoms of scarlet fever include sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. After 12 to 48 hours the characteristic red, pinhead rash develops, typically first appearing on the chest and stomach, then rapidly spreading to other parts of the body, and giving the skin a sandpaper-like texture. The scarlet rash may be harder to spot on darker skin, although the ‘sandpaper’ feel should be present. Patients typically have flushed cheeks and pallor around the mouth. This may be accompanied by a ‘strawberry tongue’. As the child improves peeling of the skin can occur.
If you suspect that your child is showing these symptoms, please keep them at home and seek medical advice, especially if they become very unwell. Good hygiene practice such as hand washing remains the most important step in preventing and controlling spread of infection.