Scarlet fever: Definition, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & At Home Care

Among the many sicknesses faced by some countries, a rare one has been surfacing up. It can even be called the new epidemic: Scarlet fever!

Scarlet fever, also called Scarlatina, is a rare illness that used to occur many years ago, damaging the health of many children. Now, its impact is less severe as a treatment path has been discovered to be effective, especially when antibiotics are administered early.

What is Scarlet fever?

It is an illness caused by a bacterium (Streptococcus A) that mostly affects children aged 5 to 15 years. It is a treatable illness with mild symptoms; but, if not treated, it can lead to serious health problems.

What are the Scarlet Fever Symptoms?

Scarlet fever is characterized by a sore throat accompanied by fever, chills, vomiting and abdominal pain. A white layer might cover the tongue. Another flagrant symptoms is a strong colored red rash that could appear couple of days before the infection to 7 days after it.

Rashes start around the neck, under the arms and groin; then, eventually spreads anywhere on the body. The rash are flat and look like a sandpaper. Eventually, the rash will start to disappear in about seven days. Then, the rash area will begin to peel, which could take many weeks.

Some kids experience additional symptoms like swallowing of the neck glands, a pale skin around the lips, headaches, swollen tonsils, or a flushed face.

How do you get Scarlet Fever?

This kind of fever is caused by a certain bacteria: Streptococcus group A. These can live in our mouth and nose. These bacteria, under some circumstances, can produce a toxin (a kind of poison) leading to rashes.

You can contract scarlet fever by getting in contact with the bacterium that lives in the nose and mouth of an infected child. So, if an infected child sneezes or coughs and lets out droplets of saliva, he can infect a whole lot of things: food, plate, cups, toys, books, tables, chairs…

One can also contract the bacterium by touching an infected skin sore containing the strep A. This skin infected with the bacteria is called cellulitis. Touching the skin itself is not contagious.

Schools, preschools and nurseries can be the most intensive target of such an infection; and, can therefore fire up a possible epidemic.

How to Detect Scarlet Fever?

Diagnosing Scarlet fever starts with a physical exam performed by your child’s doctor. This examination includes checking the tongue, throat and tonsils. Enlarged lymph nodes will also be a predictive sign. Then, the rash will be examined: texture, appearance and spread. In case signs indicate a possible infections; then, a swan test will be needed.

A simple swab from the throat of the possible infected child can determine 100% if the child has scarlet fever. Once the swab is in the throat and cells collected; the sample will be sent to the lab for culture. Meanwhile, you may want to take the rapid swab test. If the result came positive, then your child will most probably be prescribed an antibiotic to target the bacterium, prevent any associated long term health problem, and prevent the spread of the illness.


Treating Scarlet Fever

As soon as the child is diagnosed with Scarlet fever, the treatment need to begin. This illness needs antibiotics to kill the bacteria and help the body’s immune system overcome the illness. Your child has to finish the entire course of the treatment.

To address the fever, some over-the-counter pills can help, like acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. Before giving your child Ibuprofen, check with your doctor. Never use aspirin, for children, as it can lead to Reye’s syndrome.

To address the sore throat, and if your child is old enough, a salt water gargle can be effective. Also, keep your child well-hydrated.

If your child goes to school, do not send him or her not until fever goes away; and the child started antibiotics for more than 24 hours. No vaccine is yet discovered for this bacterial infection.

At-Home management of the scarlet fever includes making your child comfortable. Make sure they:

  • drink warm herbal teas and soup
  • eat soft food
  • stay hydrated
  • stay away from irritants
  • gargle with salty water
  • stay away from people who smoke
  • take their medications properly and on time

Possible Long-term health problems due to untreated Scarlet fever.

While in most cases symptoms disappear within 10 to 14 days, some kids may face complications. These include:

– Rheumatic fever (an inflammatory disease that can affect the heart, joints, skin, and brain),

– Kidney disease (inflammation of the kidneys, called poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis),

– Otitis media (ear infections),

– Skin infections, abscesses of the throat, arthritis or pneumonia.

Please understand the following:Boy washing hands with soap

1- It is very essential for nurseries and educational establishments to always watch out for possible illness symptoms, and allow themselves to send the ill child home.

2- Teach your children to continuously wash hands with antibacterial soaps and gels. They need to wash their hands before meals, after using the restrooms, and anytime they cough or sneeze. Also, teach your child to cough or sneeze by covering the mouth and nose in the elbow. Kids should never share utensils and drinking glasses.

3- School teachers should keep a close eye on their kids and identify any possible illness. If they suspect anything, they need to contact the parent and isolate the child. Also, parents of children who might have come in contact with the infected child have to be notified.

4- Nurseries and preschools should keep sanitizing everything that children get in touch with.

5- Parents should not give antibiotics to their children without their doctor’s prescription.

6- Antibiotics tackle bacteria. Viruses get resolves on their own as the sickness takes it course. Antibiotics do not heal viruses!

Taking care of your child can leave you stranded between what you hear and what you read. A lot of controversies are around you. One thing that is for sure is the need to start your baby’s first 6 months with exclusive breastfeeding; and, continuing it for up to 2 years after that. This will help build your baby/child’s immune system; and, equip him with a strong body that can fight off any future infection, easily!

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