What is scarlet fever?

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Scarlet fever is an ailment brought about by certain strains of the group A streptococci bacteria. The condition is prevalent among children below 10 years old but can occur at any age.


What are the signs?

The condition typically starts with fever and sore throat. These are the usual symptoms of strep throat.

The fever can reach up to 103-104 degrees F and can be accompanied by nausea, chills, vomiting, headache and abdominal pain.

If not treated, the fever can last for 5-7 days but typically drops in a day after antibiotics were started. Within 12-48 hours after the symptoms manifest, the child might develop a reddened rash.

Characteristics of the rash

scarlet fever
The condition typically starts with fever and sore throat.

The reddened rash of scarlet fever is comprised of miniature red bumps that start on the neck and groin which later spreads to the entire body and lasts for 5-6 days. The bumps turn white if pressed.

The rash is worse on the neck, armpits, elbow creases and groin. Once the rash fades, the skin might peel particularly on the face and palms of the hands. The peeling can last up to 6 weeks.

Management of scarlet fever

The infection necessitates antibiotics that might include amoxicillin, penicillin, clindamycin, erythromycin or cephalosporin.

The child must stay home for at least 24 hours after antibiotics have been started after which the condition is not contagious anymore. The complete course of antibiotics must be completed.

Preventive measures

If the child has scarlet fever, it is vital that he/she stays home for 24 hours to prevent spreading the condition to others but also allowing the body to recuperate. The condition can spread via sneezing or coughing as well as contact with surfaces that have been touched by an infected individual.

Regular hand washing is vital. When coughing, always cover the mouth and avoid sharing utensils and cups with others.

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