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Scarlet Fever [Adult]

Scarlet Fever is an infection with the streptococcal bacteria. This is the same bacteria that causes strep throat. However, with scarlet fever, there is a sore throat, fever and a rash. This is no more serious than a regular strep throat without a rash.

Scarlet Fever is a contagious illness. It is spread through the air by coughing, kissing or by touching others after touching your mouth or nose. Symptoms include throat pain which is worse with swallowing, aching all over, headache and fever. The rash usually appears a few days after the sore throat. It looks like tiny pink raised dots with a rough feeling like sandpaper. The rash usually clears after 4-5 days. In 1-2 weeks the skin begins to peel, like a bad sunburn.

You will be treated with an antibiotic which should make you start to feel better within 2 days.

Home Care:

  • Rest at home and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

  • No school or work for the first two days on antibiotics. You will no longer be contagious after this time and may return to your usual activities as you are feeling better.

  • Take your antibiotics for a full 10 days, even if you feel better after the first few days of treatment. This is very important to prevent later problems from strep infection (such as heart or kidney disease).

  • You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to control fever and pain, unless another medicine was prescribed. [ NOTE : If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.] (Aspirin should never be used in anyone under 18 years of age who is ill with a fever. It may cause severe liver damage.)

  • Older children and adults may use throat lozenges or sprays (Chloraseptic and others) to reduce throat pain. Gargling with warm salt water will also help (dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 glass of hot water). Use these methods before meals to reduce pain when swallowing.

Follow Up

with your doctor or as directed by our staff.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) oral or higher, not better with fever medication

  • Throat pain or headache that is getting worse

  • Pain and stiffness in the back of the neck

  • Unable to swallow liquids or open your mouth wide due to pain

  • Weakness, dizziness

  • Trouble breathing or noisy breathing

  • Rash becomes a dark purple

  • Unusual fussiness, drowsiness or confusion


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