Scarlet fever is also known as scarlatina and is a type of infectious disease that is caused by bacteria known as group A streptococcus (GAS) or Streptococcus pyogenes. Scarlet fever usually affects children and leads to a rash, high temperature, and sore throat. Most children with scarlet fever recover completely when given a full course of antibiotics. Always give the entire course (even if symptoms disappear) to prevent complications.
Symptoms of Scarlet Fever
Most signs and symptoms of scarlet fever will appear between one to four days after the initial infection occurs. These first symptoms typically include:
- A throat that is very sore as well as red (and may have yellowish or white patches)
- A fever that reaches 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3° Celsius) or even higher and is usually accompanied by chills. The rash typically follows between 12 and 48 hours after the fever.
- The rash starts as red blotches on the skin. After some time, however, they become a rash that is fine and pink-red in color and appears somewhat like sunburn. At this point the skin will feel similar to sandpaper as it is rough when touched.
This rash will spread to the groin, inner thighs, chest, elbows, neck, and ears, and occasionally spread to other areas of the body too. The rash rarely appears on the patient’s face, despite this, their cheeks will be flushed with pale area surrounding their mouth.
When you press a glass onto the skin, the rash will be blanche, meaning it turns white. The rash typically fades in around six days. In some milder cases, the rash can be the only indication.
When to Call a Medical Professional
Contact your medical professional or health care provider in the following situations:
- You develop any of the symptoms associated with scarlet fever
- You start an antibiotic treatment but are still experiencing the symptoms 24 hours later
- You begin to develop any new symptoms
Medical Treatments for Scarlet Fever
Most of the time a mild case of scarlet fever will simply clear up by itself. Despite this, you should still visit a doctor if your child (or you) shows any symptoms of the condition. Being treated for the illness will reduce your risk of developing complications and lead to a quicker recovery.
Usually a doctor is able to diagnose you or your child with scarlet fever based on the symptoms. They can confirm the diagnosis with a throat swab. This will be sent to the lab where they identify which bacteria caused the infection. In some cases you may need a blood test.
The most common treatment doctors prescribe for scarlet fever is a course of antibiotics lasting 10 days. The fever begins to go down within 24 hours after starting the antibiotics, but you should take the full course. This ensures that the germs are completely cleared out from your throat.
In cases where scarlet fever isn’t treated via antibiotics, it may end up being infectious for two or three weeks following the disappearance of the symptoms. If you are prescribed antibiotics and take them all as you were directed, you should not infect others starting 24 hours after you begin treatment. Because of this, experts currently suggest that you should not go back to work and your children should not go back to school or daycare until at least 24 hours after you start treatment.
3. What You Can Do
If your scarlet fever is accompanied by a high temperature, be sure to drink a lot of fluids. You may also want to take paracetamol as it relieves discomfort and lowers your temperature. The good news is that most people who have scarlet fever do not develop it again in the future.
For the overall scarlet fever medical information, please watch:
Home Remedies for Scarlet Fever
Although antibiotics are the main treatment for scarlet fever, you can ease your (or your child’s) pain and discomfort with the following home remedies:
- Treat Pain and Fever: Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help minimize pain in the throat and control the fever.
- Drink Enough Fluids: Drinking enough fluids prevents dehydration and keeps your throat moist, decreasing discomfort.
- Use a Saltwater Gargle: You can also ease the pain in the throat by gargling salty water and then spitting it out.
- Use a Humidifier: Use a humidifier with cool mist to get rid of dry air that irritates your sore throat.
- Lozenges: Anyone over age four can relieve their sore throat with a lozenge.
- Eat Comforting Foods: Warm liquids or cold treats can also soothe the throat.
- Avoid Irritants: Make sure your home is free of cleaning products and cigarette smoke that may irritate your throat.
For more information on home remedies, please refer to:
How to Prevent Scarlet Fever
The best way to prevent scarlet fever is to follow the same standard prevention techniques against any other infections:
- Wash Your Hands: Use warm soapy water to thoroughly wash your hands.
- Clean Your House Ware: If you or your child develops scarlet fever, wash drinking utensils, glasses, and toys using a dishwasher or hot soapy water.
- Don’t Share Food: Be sure not to share food or dining utensils with anyone else and tell your child to do the same.
- Cover Your Nose and Mouth: When sneezing or coughing, cover your nose and mouth to prevent spreading germs.