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Strep A and Scarlet Fever: What to do if your child is unwell

Posted on: 8 December 2022

Scarlet fever and invasive Group A strep - Do you know what symptoms took look out for? 

Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness. Symptoms include a sore throat, headache, swollen neck glands, and fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel. The rash may be harder to see on darker skin tones but you should be able to feel it. Contact your GP or NHS 111 if you think your child has scarlet fever.

In very rare occasions the bacteria that causes scarlet fever can get into the bloodstream and cause an illness called invasive Group A strep. If your child seems seriously unwell contact your GP or call NHS 111. Do this if your child is feeding or eating much less than normal, has a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or seems dehydrated, feels hotter than usual or is very tired and irritable.

Call 999 or go to A&E if your child is having difficulty breathing, there are pauses when your child breathes, your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue or your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake.

For more information click here.

Your health visitor, practice nurse, nurse practitioner, GP and pharmacist can all give you advice on how to treat your child’s illness.

Your GP can treat your child and prescribe medicines. Some health visitors, nurses and pharmacists can also diagnose illness and prescribe medicines for your child.

This leaflet describes what to do if your child is unwell.

If your child is ill, you can try your local pharmacy first. They’ll tell you if your child needs to see a GP. Most GP surgeries are very supportive towards parents of small children. Some will fit babies into surgeries without an appointment or see them at the beginning of surgery hours. Many GPs will also give advice over the phone.

GP appointments are also available in evenings and on weekends and bank holidays and you can read more about how to book them on our urgent care page.

If you find it difficult to contact your doctor or get to the surgery, you can visit NHS 111 online or call NHS 111.

Many GP surgeries, minor injury units, walk-in centres and pharmacies are equipped to deal with minor accidents, such as cuts or items trapped in the nose or ear. In this situation, ask a GP or NHS 111 for advice on where to go before you go to A&E.

You can find further information on the NHS website here:


You can also find videos from medical experts and a blog on scarlet fever and Group Strep A: