Scarlet fever is a type of infection due to group A streptococcus bacteria. The bacteria form a toxin or poison which will result to the scarlet-colored rash from which this disease derives its name. Take note that not all streptococci bacteria can create this toxin and not all children are sensitive to it as well. Two children coming from the same family can both have strep infections. However, one child who is susceptible to the toxin will develop the rash of scarlet fever while the other child will not. Typically, if a child has scarlet rash and other indications of strep throat, these can be cured with antibiotics. Thus, you may need to call the doctor once your child has all these symptoms. The most striking indication of scarlet fever is the rash. At first, it looks like bad sunburn with small bumps which cause itchiness. Usually, the rash becomes visible first on the face and neck and would frequently leave an obvious unaffected area around the mouth. Then spreads to the area of the chest and back and eventually, to the rest of the body. The rash forms classic red streaks on creases of the body particularly around the elbows and underarms. The areas of the rash typically become white when they are pressed. On the 6th day of infection, the rash will gradually fade but the skin that is affected will start to peel.
Besides the rash, there are other common symptoms which can aid in the confirmation of the diagnosis of scarlet fever. These include fever greater than 101 degrees in Fahrenheit or 38.3 degrees Celsius, swollen glands in the neck and a reddened sore throat. Furthermore, the tonsils as well as the back of the throat are covered with a whitish coating or look red, swollen and dotted with pus in white or yellow color. During the early stage of infection, the tongue can have a coating of white or yellow in color. A kid suffering from scarlet fever will also experience loss of appetite, body aches, nausea, chills and vomiting. If scarlet fever occurs due to an infection of the throat, usually, the fever will stop within three to five days. Afterwards, the sore throat will also pass. More often than not, the rash due to scarlet fever will vanish on the 6th day after the onset of the symptoms of sore throat. However, the skin which was covered with rash can start to peel off. Period of peeling can persist for ten days. Usually with antibiotic treatment, the infections will be cured within a ten-day treatment course. Nonetheless, the swollen glands and tonsils may take several weeks to return to normal. In uncommon cases, scarlet fever can develop due to a streptococcal infection of the skin such as impetigo. In these instances, the child may not suffer from sore throat.
The bacterial infection which causes scarlet fever is infectious. A child suffering from scarlet fever can spread the infection to others by way of nasal and throat fluids released when coughing or sneezing. If a child has infection of the skin due to strep bacteria such as impetigo, this can be transmitted through skin contact. In our daily lives, there is no ideal way of avoiding the infections which will result to scarlet fever. When a child is sick and stays at home, it is always safe to separate the drinking glasses and eating utensils of the child from the rest of the family members. Also, these items should be thoroughly washed with hot soapy water. While caring for the child with strep infection, you also need to wash your hands as frequently as possible.