Scarlet fever

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Scarlet fever is a highly contagious and uncomfortable disease. Initially, the indications of scarlet fever strikingly resemble strep throat. After 1-2 days, a reddened, whole-body rash and other distinctive signs such as skin pigmentation and strawberry tongue might be present.

Antibiotics are generally prescribed. If not treated, scarlet fever will worsen progressively and might result to serious complications.

What are the usual signs?

Scarlet fever is brought about by the group A streptococcus bacterium. Some of the usual signs include:

  • Fever – an individual with scarlet fever has a temperature of at least 101 degrees. If the infection is not managed with antibiotics, the fever can last for 5-7 days.
  • Sore throat – the throat and tonsils become reddened and swollen, often coated with white pus. The neck glands might also be swollen and tender to the touch and there is pain when swallowing.

A child with scarlet fever might end up with symptoms like a bacterial infection which includes chills, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache and appetite loss.

Scarlet fever
The neck glands might also be swollen and tender to the touch and there is pain when swallowing.

Close look on the scarlet fever rash

Approximately 12-48 hours after manifestation of the primary signs of scarlet fever, the distinctive rash and other symptoms start to arise. The rash is comprised of miniature, reddened bumps and feels like sandpaper, especially on the chest and arms. Once pressed gently, the rash blanches.

The rash is oftentimes worse on the neck, armpits, elbow creases and the groin. It can last for up to a week. Once it settles, the skin might peel for several weeks, especially on the face and palms of the hands.

Other skin changes linked with scarlet fever include:

  • Circumoral pallor or pale region around the mouth
  • Pastia’s lines or darkened, hyperpigmented sites in the skin creases
  • Strawberry tongue which is reddened, enlarged bumps on the tongue with a white coating

When to consult a doctor

If there is a rash accompanied by fever or throat discomfort, it is vital to consult a doctor, especially if possible exposure to strep.

Even though scarlet fever is not as common as before, one should not assume that the symptoms might be due to something else.

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