Is Scarlet Fever Contagious for Adults & How Does One Get Affected by Scarlet Fever?

Generally, scarlet fever is recognized as a modest infection, and commonly it takes 2-5 days for a person who is exposed to group A streptococcus to fall sick. This illness usually starts with a sore throat and fever. However, a person might also suffer from vomiting, abdominal pain or chills. The tongue of the patient can look swollen and can have a whitish coating. Again, it can have red and bumpy (strawberry) appearance. At times, the tonsils and throat might turn sore and bright red and the patient feels difficulty in swallowing. After a day or two of the beginning of this illness, a red rash begins to appear. A rash starts as a red rash and it turns rough like sandpaper. This rash generally starts under the arms, groin, and the neck before spreading to the remaining parts of the body. The folds of your skin in the elbows, knees, and armpits become deeper red compared to the surrounding skin. Post the rash getting subsided, in nearly a week, the skin on the tips of the toes and fingers and in the groin might peel. However, it does last for some weeks.

Is Scarlet Fever Contagious for Adults?

Scarlet Fever is a highly contagious condition. Group A streptococcus surviving in the throat and in the nasal area easily spread to other individuals. It is highly important to know that every infected people don’t suffer from the same symptoms or look sick.

How Does One Get Affected by Scarlet Fever?

People who get infected by Scarlet Fever spread the bacteria when they sneeze or cough and this spreads little respiratory droplets which contain the bacteria. You can get sick with Scarlet Fever when you:

  • Breathe in those droplets
  • Touch sores on your skin caused by impetigo (A strep)
  • Touch something which has droplets on it before touching your nose or mouth
  • Drink from the affected person’s glass or eat from his plate.

Very rarely people can spread group A strep via food which isn’t handled properly. Children and some adults suffer from an increased danger of getting affected with Scarlet Fever but there are a few factors which can augment the chances of getting this infection. Just like strep throat, scarlet fever is more commonly found in children compared to adults. Scarlet Fever is mostly found in children who are aged between 5 and 15 years. Again, it is rarely found in children who happen to be younger than 3 years of age. Adults who suffer from an increased danger of Scarlet Fever comprise:

  • Adults who habitually come in contact with children
  • Parents of school going children.

When adults come in close contact with other people suffering from scarlet fever, then they run the risk of suffering from this illness. For instance, when a person has Scarlet Fever then it gets spread to other individuals in his household. Infectious illnesses do spread wherever there is a large group of people who have gathered together. Crowded conditions do augment the danger of getting Group A strep infection and the settings comprise:

  • Daycare Centers
  • Schools
  • Military training facilities.

Scarlet Fever can get spread in 2-5 days prior to a person falling ill and it can get spread via contact with droplets from the patient’s nasal secretions, saliva, cough, or sneeze. Group A strep does cause skin infection in a few people and these skin infections are recognized as cellulitis and it spreads the bacteria to other people.

Nonetheless, touching scarlet fever’s rash will never spread the bacteria as the rash is the consequence of the toxin.


When you practice good hygiene then you can easily prevent scarlet fever. For preventing scarlet fever, you can teach as well as follow some prevention tips. You should always wash your hands before eating your food and after making use of the restroom. You should also wash your hands when you sneeze or cough. Additionally, you should cover your nose and mouth at the time of coughing or sneezing and never in any condition, do share your utensils and your drinking glasses. When you get the correct treatment at the right time then you will be able to avoid further problems, like pneumonia, sinusitis or ear infection. You must be mindful that complications of this illness can include kidney problems and rheumatic fever. At rare instances, severe problems do occur that includes death. However, a little caution and prevention can help in preventing Scarlet Fever.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 14, 2018

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