Scarlet Fever

Learning about scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection caused by the streptococcus bacteria. It is an exotoxin of the strep throat virus. It can occur as a result of a strep throat infection, as a result of impetigo, or from another streptococcus infection. Normally, the doctor can determine that the patient has scarlet fever from the existence of the characteristic "scarlet" sandpaper rash, which accompanies the symptoms of the throat infection.


What is scarlet fever caused by?

Normally, strep throat is caused by streptococcus pyogenes. In some cases, an exotoxin is released that causes a mutation of the virus, which then causes scarlet fever. Once a major cause of death, scarlet fever is now easily treated by a 10-day course of antibiotics which will knock the infection out. However, it still has several complications, including rheumatic fever, which can be alarming if your child happens to contract it.

Scarlet fever symptoms

Scarlet fever begins like any other strep throat infection. A fever above 101 degrees F, a very sore throat and extreme fatigue may begin the illness. Around the third day, the characteristic rash begins to appear. It is normally bright red and sandpapery, and can have little bumps that may itch. Also, the patient may experience gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and cramping. Around the fourth or fifth day, the rash will begin to peel and fade. Normally, by that time, the infection is clearing up and by the seventh day, the child will be better and the throat infection will be nearly gone.

Scarlet fever treatment

Because scarlet fever is a bacterial illness, it can be successfully treated with antibiotics, normally a 10-day course of penicillin or another antibiotic. The scarlet fever rash is normally left alone to heal on its own. Plenty of fluids and analgesics can help with the pain of the sore throat and the fever. Occasionally, medical attention will need to be acquired if any complications like difficulty breathing or reoccurrence of symptoms occur. Everyone in the family will need to be tested for scarlet fever as well, to prevent the spread of illness to those at risk.