Scarlet fever, or scarlatina, is an illness involving a distinctive pink-red rash. It mainly affects children. Left untreated, it can sometimes lead to severe complications.In the past, it was a serious childhood illness, but modern antibiotics have made it much rarer and less threatening.However, occasional and significant outbreaks still occur. Bacteria called group A Streptococcus or group A strep cause scarlet fever. The bacteria sometimes make a poison (toxin), which causes the rash — the “scarlet” of scarlet fever. Signs and symptoms generally appear about 1 to 4 days after initial infection.
The first symptoms of scarlet fever are usually a red, sore throat, sometimes with white or yellowish patches, and a fever of 101 Fahrenheit (38.3 Celsius) or higher, frequently with chills. A rash then appears 12 to 48 hours after these first symptoms. Red blotches appear on the skin. These turn into a fine pink-red rash that looks like sunburn. The skin feels rough when touched, like sandpaper.
The rash spreads to the ears, neck, elbows, inner thighs and groin, chest, and other parts of the body.
It does not usually appear on the face, but the patient's cheeks will become flushed, and the area around the mouth becomes pale.