Health officials issue advice about scarlet fever for parents

editorial image

Public health officials are warning parents to look out for the symptoms of scarlet fever in their children.

This year there has been a higher number of reports of the illness, which most commonly occurs in children aged between two and eight.

To help prevent the spread of the disease, public health officials have published guidance about how to spot signs of infection and are advising parents to take children with suspected symptoms to their GP.

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Dave Allen said: “We want to help prevent anyone catching the disease where it can be avoided and are urging parents with children who display symptoms to seek treatment as soon as possible.

“That’s why we’ve sent through information to local schools and nurseries to give parents the facts about signs to look out for and what they should do if they think their child has caught it.”

The first symptoms of scarlet fever often include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. After 12 to 48 hours a fine red rash develops which feels like sandpaper to touch.

The rash usually appears on the chest and stomach before rapidly spreading to other parts of the body. On darker skin the rash can be harder to spot, although the skin will still feel like sandpaper.

Other signs include:

• Fever of 38.3C or higher is common

• White coating of the tongue, which peels to leave it looking red and swollen

• Swollen glands in the neck

• Feeling tired and generally unwell

• Flushed red face but pale around the mouth

• Peeling skin on the fingertips, toes and groin area as the rash fades

Good hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection, which is often transferred by coughs and sneezes.

To protect against infection parents and carers should:

• Make sure children wash their hands regularly

• Not allow children to share cutlery with an infected person

• Make sure children avoid people with the infection

• Wash or dispose of tissues or handkerchiefs used by an infected person

• Be aware that you can catch scarlet fever by inhaling airborne droplets if someone with the illness coughs or sneezes in the air near you.

• Parents who think their child has scarlet fever should:

• See their GP as soon as possible

• Make sure their child takes the full course of any antibiotics prescribed by the GP

• Keep their child at home, away from nursery or school for at least 24 hours after starting the antibiotic treatment if the illness is confirmed

Parents can get free advice about scarlet fever from the NHS 111 telephone healthcare service or find more information from Public Health England at