Scarlet Fever

Scarlet Fever Symptoms and Treatment

Scarlet fever is an infection caused by streptococcal bacteria, very similar to strep throat. In the distant past, scarlet fever was considered a very dangerous illness, but now it's rare to find it in infants and toddlers. If caught early, it is easily treated. If a parent suspects their child may have any symptoms, they should take them to a physician right away. Scarlet fever is typically found in children between the ages of 2 and 10.


Scarlet Fever Symptoms

Common symptoms of scarlet fever include high fever, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, headache and stomach pain, followed by a red rash that starts at the neck and chest, and then spreads to the rest of the body. Occasionally, the rash will extend to the tongue, but usually after three days the rash will disappear and the fever will fall. However, sometimes the tongue will still stay swollen for a couple of days.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Scarlet Fever

Your pediatrician will check the child over looking for significant signs of the disease, e.g., rash, swollen tongue and swollen throat. If the doctor finds signs of the infection, he will perform a throat swab and ship it to a laboratory for further testing. There is a quicker test available, but it is less accurate.

Unlike other childhood illnesses, scarlet fever cannot be left to run its course without treatment. It is a very serious disease with very serious complications. It can spread to the heart, kidneys and vital organs, which could leave them scarred and possibly crippled for life.

If the test comes back positive, the doctor will prescribe appropriate antibiotics. Home care should include plenty of rest, water and juice to help rejuvenate and flush out the system. Acetaminophen can be given to the child for the pain associated with the infection, but never give children aspirin. Studies show giving a child aspirin when they have scarlet fever can cause Reye's syndrome, which is a rare and possibly life-threatening infection of the liver.

Is Scarlet Fever Contagious?

Scarlet fever is contagious for at least 10 to 21 days after infection and anyone infected should be quarantined for that period of time if untreated. If your child has scarlet fever and is given antibiotics, he or she should wait at least 24 hours before being around others.

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