Symptoms of scarlet fever
The symptoms of scarlet fever usually take two to five days to appear after infection.
However, the incubation period (the time between exposure to the infection and symptoms starting) can be as short as one day or as long as seven days.
Red blotches are the first sign of the rash. These turn into a fine pink-red rash that feels like sandpaper to touch and looks like sunburn. It may also be itchy.
The rash usually starts on the chest and stomach, but soon spreads to other parts of the body, such as the ears, neck, elbows, inner thighs and groin.
The rash doesn't usually spread to the face. However, the cheeks become flushed and the area just around the mouth stays quite pale. The rash will turn white if you press a glass on it.
The rash usually fades after about a week, but the outer layers of skin, usually on the hands and feet, may peel for several weeks afterwards.
In milder cases, sometimes called scarlatina, the rash may be the only symptom.
Other symptoms may include:
When to seek medical advice
See your GP as soon as possible if you think you or your child has scarlet fever. Although the illness usually clears up after about a week, your GP will be able to confirm a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment.