Scarlet fever is a bacterial illness that causes a distinctive pink-red rash. It is uncommon in the UK nowadays and is usually mild.
Anybody can catch scarlet fever, but it usually affects children aged two to eight years old. As it is so contagious, scarlet fever is likely to affect someone in close contact with a person with a sore throat or skin infection caused by streptococcus bacteria. It may also affect someone who lives in a crowded environment, such as day care.
The characteristic symptom of scarlet fever is a widespread, fine pink-red rash that feels like sandpaper to touch. It may start in one area, but soon spreads to many parts of the body, such as the ears, neck and chest. The rash may be itchy.
Other symptoms include a high temperature, a flushed face and a red, swollen tongue.
Symptoms of scarlet fever usually develop two to five days after infection, although you will be contagious before showing signs of the illness.