The distinctive red or pink rash is the symptom that is likely to urge you to call a doctor and hear him say: “You guessed right, it’s scarlatina”. How do you recognize scarlet fever when it attacks your child? What are the ways to alleviate the symptoms? For how long will your child remain contagious? Let’s find out.
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Know your enemy
Your child has a sore throat, difficulty swallowing and strange rash? It’s time to call a doctor.
The primary symptoms are:
- Red or pink rash. Such a rash reminds of sunburns and spreads, starting from the face.
- Fever. The temperature of 38.3 C (or 101 F) is the average temperature seen in patients with scarlatina.
- Sore throat. The person’s throat gets very sore, the color is red, and it’s painful to swallow. In some patients, white patches can be seen there.
These are the key symptoms characteristic of this illness, which are seen in the overwhelming majority of patients. As to its ‘target audience’, it’s the children aged five to fifteen that are affected most often. Those under ten years are more likely to develop scarlet fever. However, the bacteria causing it can affect people regardless of age.
Other symptoms may include:
- Red lines. Skin folds in armpits and other body parts become deep red.
Strawberry-like tongue. The person’s tongue gets red, and white coating can appear on it.
- Red face. The patient’s face becomes flushed. The distinctive symptom is a face which is flushed in all its parts except for the mouth area, which remains pale.
- Enlarged glands. It’s a symptom related to sore throat. Lymph nodes in the neck can become tender and swollen.
In most cases, the symptoms subside in a week. The skin affected by the red rash is very likely to peel after that.
How did my child get it?
The illness is caused by the Streptococcus bacteria. While their primary occupation is causing sore throat, sometimes they excel and bring scarlatina with them, which develops with the help of the toxin the bacteria produce.
The period needed for the illness to develop ranges from one to seven days. Don’t forget that your child is contagious, so do not let him/her share cutlery, food and other things with other family members. Needless to say that your child should stay at home and avoid going to school until the patient is not contagious any more. The length of the period of being contagious may vary. If there is no treatment, the bacteria will stay there for as long as several weeks. If antibiotics are used, the period gets shorter.
The illness is passed on my means of fluids, e.g. droplets of water which the child with the illness spreads when sneezing or coughing. It’s very likely that your son or daughter got it from another child while in school or some other place where contact with others is inevitable. Another way to catch it is to touch infected food.
In order to stop bacteria spreading, give your child a surgical mask to wear. Yes, such masks are for the patients, not for the ones who are afraid of catching the bacteria-rich droplets.
How can I help alleviate the symptoms?
The standard treatment implies a 10-day course of antibiotics. Addressing the bacteria a must, because they can cause kidney issues, heart problems and other serious things if left unattended.
Make sure to have your child treated by a doctor. As to other methods of relieving the symptoms, you may opt for the following:
- Honey can help you fight sore throat. Add some honey or mint to hot tea or water to help your child feel less pain.
- Lavender oil can also come in handy. It is capable of reducing stress and moisturizing itchy rash. Make sure you don’t use pure lavender oil, as it is supposed to be mixed with a carrier oil!
- To soothe the throat, cook hot meals, like soups and porridges. Besides, infection takes great effort for the body to defeat it, and digestion should not require as much energy as usual, so let the food be soft.
- Hydration is a must and an essential part of almost any treatment. Hot teas can be another good option to help your child’s sore throat.
Scarlet Fever – Nhs.uk
Lavender – Umm.edu
Resurgence of Scarlet Fever in England, 2014–16: A Population-Based Surveillance Study –TheLancet.com