Your child tells you they woke up with a sore throat. This alone is not an unusual complaint, but the next day they mention a new rash on their underarm.
Guidance from the CDC says you should take that seriously, as this may be a sign of an infection called scarlet fever.
Scarlet fever is caused by a bacteria called group A Strep, that sometimes makes a toxin causing a bumpy rash. It’s reddish hue gives it the name scarlet fever and it is spread from droplets from an infected individual.
It typically effects children ages 5-15 in settings with close contact such as schools and daycares, but sometimes does infect adults in close contact with children.
In addition to sore throat, other typical symptoms are painful swallowing, fever and chills, abdominal pain and vomiting, and a red and bumpy “strawberry like tongue.” The notable rash on the skin typically develops in 1 to 2 days after first symptoms but is variable, and will typically start in the neck, underarm, or groin before spreading over the body.
Routine tests are available for the bacteria at your doctor’s office to determine the cause. There are potentially serious complications that can arise from an untreated scarlet fever infection that can affect the heart or kidneys, so be sure to visit your doctor if you see these signs.
The good news is scarlet fever is easily treatable with common antibiotics.