Scarlet fever in children: symptoms and treatment

Scarlet fever in children: symptoms and treatment
Fonte: shutterstock

La scarlet fever it is an infectious disease that is transmitted by the respiratory route and caused by one group A beta hemolytic streptococcus.

It manifests itself mainly in winter and autumn with

  • sudden and high fever,
  • chills,
  • He retched,
  • headache,
  • sore throat
  • and abdominal pain.

In this article

  • what is scarlet fever
  • who and when it hits
  • how many times you can get sick
  • how long does the incubation last
  • how it is transmitted
  • how long it is contagious
  • what are the symptoms of scarlet fever
  • how long the rash lasts
  • risks and complications
  • nucleoside
  • when the child can go back to school
  • scarlet fever and pregnancy

1. What is it

It is a contagious exanthematous disease of bacterial origin, due to Group A beta hemolytic streptococcus and in particular at toxins produced by him.

Read also: Streptococcal sore throat, everything you need to know

The exanthematous diseases

They are called exanthematous disease because they can cause rashes, namely rashes widespread. According to one of the latest proposed classifications, published in the Future Microbiology journal in 2022, there are six classic childhood rashes:

  1. scarlet fever (bacterial),
  2. measles,
  3. rubella,
  4. chickenpox,
  5. megaloeritema o infectious erythema (the so-called fifth disease)
  6. ed critical rash (the sixth disease).

Measles, rubella, chicken pox, fifth and sixth diseases are of viral origin. To these six classic diseases we can also add another one, which is syndrome hands-feet-mouth, also of viral origin.

2. Who and when it strikes

It mainly affects school-age children and is more common in the winter months.

3. How many times can you get sick

Since there are several strains, you can get sick with scarlet fever several times.

So yes, scarlet fever can come back and there isn't one Vaccine, so the only way to prevent it is to avoid contagion.

4. How long does the incubation last

The incubation period lasts from two to five days after infection.

5. How it is transmitted

Scarlet fever is transmitted by air with droplets of saliva (coughing, sneezing ...) from a sick person or even a carrier.

6. How long have you been contagious

The patient is very contagious especially during the acute phase of the disease while it is very infectious in the period that precedes it and it is no longer so after 24-48 hours from the beginning of the necessary antibiotic therapy.

7. What are the symptoms of scarlet fever

High fever, chills, headache, sore throat and very red pharynx. The tongue is initially covered with a white patina which will then become raspberry red. Within 12-48 hours, the rash appears, made up of a myriad of slightly raised red spots: it starts from the groin, armpits and neck but within a day spreads to the whole body.

The face becomes bright red except for the areas of the nose, mouth and chin which remain white.

Scarlet fever in children: symptoms and treatment

Scarlet fever in children: photos to recognize it

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Scarlet fever is a bacterial infectious disease that occurs with the appearance of sore throat, vomiting, fever and headache. The rash can spread all over the body and ...

Scarlet fever or fourth disease

Until recently, a child with:

  • mild rash,
  • small reddish spots that appear starting from the trunk,
  • other mild and not always present symptoms (such as vomiting, fever, sore throat, breathing problems),

it was said to have the fourth disease, or scarlet fever. It is considered a mild form of scarlet fever (or, for some, rubella), [Read also: Exanthematous diseases, symptoms and treatments].

In fact, whether this disease - first described in 1901 by the English physician Clement Dukes - really existed has long been a controversial question. Now, however, most scholars agree that it does not exist, so much so that it has actually disappeared from the most recent classifications of the scientific literature and from the manuals of pediatrics. What was once called the fourth disease can at most fall under the so-called atypical rashes.

8. How long does the rash last

The rash lasts 3-4 days, then turns pale, the fever subsides and peeling of the skin may occur.

9. Risks and complications of scarlet fever

Generally it is not a serious disease, but if it is not adequately treated, the toxins released by the responsible bacterium can compromise functionality, in the most serious cases.

  • of the heart,
  • kidneys,
  • liver
  • and joints.

As in streptococcal pharyngitis, they can occur in the absence of treatment immunological complications such as rheumatic disease, which involves fever and joint pain, and glomerulonephritis affecting the kidney.

10. Scarlet fever therapy

Scarlet fever is treated with antibiotic therapy, necessary to avoid the risk of complications.

Typically the prescribed medication is amoxicillin, to be taken by mouth for 10 days (doctors recommend NOT to stop taking it, even if your symptoms improve).

Medicines can also be combined to relieve symptoms, such as paracetamol as an antipyretic.

11. When the child can go back to school

Already 24-36 hours after the first antibiotic intake, the child can go back to school because he is no longer infectious. Obviously, if he feels fit!

Read also: Sick children, when can they go back to school?

Scarlet fever in pregnancy, is it dangerous?

If scarlet fever is contracted within nine months, it does not cause any fetal complications or harm the expectant mother in any way, as long as it is treated with antibiotics compatible with the state of pregnancy.

Sources for this article: information material of the Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital (here and here), information material of the Healthy Children website, of the American Association of Pediatricians

To know more: exanthematous diseases

  • scarlet fever
  • red spots and sore throat
  • exanthematous diseases
  • 6-14 children years
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