Scarlet fever is caused by the same bacteria as Strep Throat and is characterized by a bright red rash
Scarlet Fever is a childhood illness caused by a bacterial infection. Although it is rather rare in recent times, it is serious and can often be caused by the same bacteria as strep throat. With better antibiotics, although it is now rare, if left undiagnosed, it can lead to further more permanent damage to the kidneys and the heart.
The name, scarlet fever comes from the characteristic bright red patches that form, that are a major symptom of the disease. The other symptoms of Scarlet Fever include:
- Rash: resembling a severe sunburn, it begins usually in the neck or face and spreads then to the rest of the body.
- Red lines around the armpits, elbows and knees
- High fever with chills
- Strawberry tongue: a swollen tongue with that can be bumpy and there may be thin white film on the tongue.
- Pale skin around the lips
It is a good time to go see your doctor if your child has a fever of 102 F or higher, a red rash or swollen glands in the neck.
Scarlet fever is caused by a bacteria similar to one that causes strep throat. It is the toxin that is made by this bacteria that causes the bright red rash on the body and the red tongue. It is spread by droplets from the nose or the mouth of the infected person when they cough or sneeze.
While anyone who is exposed to an infected person is at risk children between 5 and 15 are most susceptible to Scarlet Fever.
The tests for scarlet fever include a physical exam of the throat and tonsils of the child. There is also a chance that a throat swab will be taken and the sample is sent for analysis. The doctor will also look for enlarged lymph nodes. Another definite part of the exam is the examination of the rash.
Treatment and complications
Treatment for scarlet fever is normally antibiotics which help the system fight off the bacteria causing the infection. It is important to finish the entire course of the medicine for it to keep the infection at bay. There are no vaccinations available for scarlet fever yet.
Once treatment starts, the symptoms and side effects normally vanish. But if left untreated, there are several complications that could develop. Before stronger and more specific antibiotics, treating scarlet fever was difficult and was often fatal. With starting treatment at the right time, it is easy to cure Scarlet fever.
Some of the complications that one could develop from leaving scarlet fever untreated include:
- Kidney disease
- Ear infections
- Skin infections
- Throat abscesses
- Rheumatic fever
The outlook for someone with a diagnosis of scarlet fever is positive because of the medication that is now available. But it is always a good idea to try and preventing contracting it in the first place. The best way to prevent getting a scarlet fever infection is to wash hands and to be rid of germs and not sharing utensils and food.
Yashoda Hospitals’ Center for Paediatrics provides comprehensive care for children below the age of 18. The specialists that cater to them have a vast experience in all the sub-specialities of paediatric medicine and are capable of management of medical problems related to children. The center offers