Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Scarlet fever, also known as scarlatina, is a disease which can occur as a result of a group A streptococcus infection. Children between five and 15 years of age are mostly affected by scarlet fever.

Scarlatina affects people who have strep throat or streptococcal skin infections. The characteristic rash is usually due to the erythrogenic toxin, a substance produced by some types of bacterium.

There is no vaccine to prevent this disease Prevention is mainly by maintaining a good hygiene. If treated, outcomes with scarlet fever are typically good. Fewer than 100 thousand cases are reported every year in India.

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How Does Scarlet Fever Affect Your Body?

Scarlatina is an illness that can happen in children who also have strep throat or strep skin infections. The strep bacteria make a toxin that causes a bright red, bumpy rash. The rash further spreads over most of the body and often looks like a bad sunburn with fine bumps that may feel rough like sandpaper, and it can itch. The skin over time might peel for several weeks which is a sign of healing.

What Are The Causes of Scarlet Fever?

A person in close contact with an infected person with Group A streptococcal pharyngitis has a 35% chance of becoming infected. Spread of strep throat occurs by close contact, via saliva or nasal discharge.

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What Are The Risk Factors of Scarlet Fever?

Children between 5 to 15 years of age are more likely than are other people to get scarlet fever. Germs of scarlatina spread more easily among people in close contact.

What Are The Symptoms of Scarlet Fever?

  • Red rash – Rash caused by scarlatina looks like a sunburn and feels like sandpaper and begins on the face or neck and spreads to the trunk, arms, and legs.
  • Red lines – Folds of skin around the groin, armpits, elbows, knees, and neck usually become a deeper red.
  • Flushed face – Face may appear flushed with a pale ring around the mouth due to scarlatina.
  • Strawberry tongue – The tongue generally looks red and bumpy, and is often covered with a white coating early in the disease.
  • Fever 38.3 or higher, often with chills.
  • Sore, red throat often with white or yellowish patches.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes; tender to touch.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Headache.

How is Scarlet Fever Diagnosed?

It can be clinically diagnosed, further testing may be required to distinguish it from other illnesses.

  • Rapid antigen detection test – This is a very specific test but not very sensitive i.e., if the result is positive (indicating that the Group A Strep Antigen was detected) then it is appropriate to treat them with antibiotics. However, if the test is negative (indicating that they do not have Group A Strep Pharyngitis), then a throat culture is required to confirm since it could be a false negative result.
  • Throat cultures – This is done after antibiotic therapy and can tell you if the infection has been removed.
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How To Prevent And Control Scarlet Fever?

There is no vaccine to prevent scarlet fever.

  • Wash your hands – Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water and make the children learn the effective way too.
  • Don’t share dining utensils or food – Tell your child to not share drinking glasses or eating utensils or food with friends or classmates.
  • Cover your mouth and nose – Tell your child to cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing to prevent the potential spread of germs.

Treatment of Scarlet Fever – Allopathic Treatment

Antibiotics are given to fight against the streptococcal infection. Administration of appropriate antibiotics decreases the length of illness. This also prevents the child from developing one of the complications, acute rheumatic fever. Prompt treatment with antibiotics also has the ability to prevent transmission of the infection between children.

The antibiotic, penicillin V is taken by mouth in pill form. Children who are not able to take pills are given amoxicillin which comes in a liquid form and is equally effective.

Treatment of Scarlet Fever – Homeopathic Treatment

  • Belladonna – This medicine treats scarlatina smooth, red and shiny eruptions, hot dry and red throat, and very irritable stomach causing nausea and vomiting.
  • Ailanthus Gland – This is given when the regular rash does not come out and the child has a malignant fever, fetid odor from mouth and nose.
  • Rhus Tox – This is indicated when in additions to regular scarlet fever, there is a vesicular eruption.
  • Apis Mel – This is only useful when there is edema with kidney troubles.
  • Lachesis – This is given when the blood affection first and the mucous membrane second are prominent.
  • Scarlatinum – This can be used as an intercurrent remedy, and as preventive for scarlet fever.

Scarlet Fever – Lifestyle Tips

  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water and teach children to wash hands effectively.
  • Using tissues to trap germs from coughs or sneezes can be helpful.
  • Treat fever and pain using ibuprofen (Advil, Children’s Motrin, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) to control the fever and minimize throat pain.
  • Provide adequate fluids to your child to keep the throat moist and prevent dehydration.
  • Humidify the air using a cool mist humidifier to eliminate dry air that may further irritate a sore throat.
  • Provide comforting foods like warm liquids such as soup and cold treats like ice pops can soothe a sore throat.
  • Avoid irritants from home such as, cigarette smoke and cleaning products that can irritate the throat.

What Are The Recommended Exercises For a Person With Scarlet Fever?

No specific exercise is recommended for patients with scarlet fever.

Scarlet Fever & Pregnancy – Things to Know

Scarlatina during pregnancy is unlikely to cause any harm to an unborn baby, but if you do come in contact with the bacteria, talk to your doctor.

Common Complications Related to Scarlet Fever

  • Rheumatic fever
  • Kidney disease (glomerulonephritis)
  • Ear infections
  • Throat abscesses
  • Pneumonia
  • Arthritis

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