What is Scarlet Fever in Kids

Scarlet Fever

Scarlet fever (also called scarlatina in older literature) is an infectious disease which most commonly affects children. Scarlet fever is a bacterial illness that develops in some people who have strep throat.


About Scarlet Fever

Scarlet Fever is caused by an infection with group A streptococcus bacteria. The bacteria make a toxin (poison) that can cause the scarlet-colored rash from which this illness gets its name.

Scarlet fever is an illness with a characteristic rash that is caused by a strep infection.

Not all streptococci bacteria make this toxin and not all kids are sensitive to it. Two kids on the same family may both have strep infections, but one child (who is sensitive to the toxin) may develop the rash of scarlet fever while the other may not. If a child has this scarlet rash and other symptoms of strep throat, this can be treated with antibiotics. Now if your child has these symptoms, it’s very important to call your doctor.

Scarlet fever is a bacterial illness that develops in some people who have strep throat. Also known as scarlatina, scarlet fever features a bright red rash that covers most of the body. Scarlet fever is almost always accompanied by a sore throat and a high fever.

Scarlet fever is most common in children 5 to 15 years of age. Although scarlet fever was once considered a serious childhood illness, antibiotic treatments have made it less threatening. Still, if left untreated, scarlet fever can result in more-serious conditions that affect the heart, kidneys and other parts of the body.

Symptoms of Scarlet Fever

Signs and symptoms that will give scarlet fever its name include:

  • Red rash. The rash looks like a sunburn and feels like sandpaper. Typically begins on the face or neck and spreads to the trunk, arms and legs. If a pressure is applied to the reddened skin, then it will turn pale.
  • Red lines. The folds of skin around the armpits, groin, elbows, neck and knees usually become a deeper red than the surrounding rash.
  • Flushed face. The face may appear flushed with a pale ring around the mouth.
  • Strawberry tongue. The tongue generally looks red and bumpy, and very often covered with a white coating early in the disease.

The rash and the redness in the face and tongue usually last about a week. After these symptoms and signs have subsided, the affected skin by the rash often peels.

Other signs and symptoms associated with scarlet fever include:

  • Fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or higher, usually with chills
  • Very sore and red throat, sometimes with white or yellowish patches
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Enlarged glands in the neck (lymph nodes) that are tender to the touch
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache

The rash is the most striking sign of scarlet fever. This usually begins looking like a bad sunburn with tiny bumps and it may be itch. Rash usually appears first on the face and neck, this often leaving a clear unaffected area around the mouth. It may spreads to the chest and back, that’s the time to rest of the body. In any body creases, especially somewhere around the underarms and elbows, the rash may forms classic in red streaks. Areas of rash usually turn white when you press on them. In by the sixth day of infection the rash usually fades, but the affected skin may soon begin to peel.

Aside from the rash, there are usually other symptoms that help to confirm a diagnosis of scarlet fever, including a redened sore throat, and fever above 101°F (38.3°C), and swollen glands on the neck. Tonsils and back of the throat may be covered with a whitish coating, or red, swollen, and dotted with whitish or yellowish specks of pus. On the earlyof infection, the tongue may have a whitish or yellowish coating. Child with scarlet fever may also have chills, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

When scarlet fever occurs because of a throat infection and the fever may stops within 3 to 5 days, and the sore throat will passes afterward. The scarlet fever rash usually fades on the sixth day after sore throat symptoms began, but the skin that was covered by the rash may begin to peel. This kind peeling will last to 10 days. A antibiotic treatment, the infection itself is usually cured with a 10-day course of antibiotics, but this will take a few weeks for tonsils and swollen glands to return to normal.

In rare cases, scarlet fever may develop from a streptococcal skin infection like impetigo. These cases, the child may not get a sore throat.


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