What is Scarlet Fever

Question

What is scarlet fever and how common is it?

Dr. Greene's Answer

Scarlet fever is a colorful name given to strep throat that comes with a rash. Before antibiotics were available, this was a very scary infection. Now it is very easy to treat, but still dangerous if untreated.

It’s fairly common, but many docs don’t use the words “scarlet fever” because that term conjures up frightening images from the past. I see a child with it about every two weeks or so. The rash usually feels like sandpaper and is often most pronounced just around the armpits.

Medical Review on: February 07, 2007
About the Author
Photo of Dr. Alan Greene
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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