Every parent wants to ensure the best for their kids in life, especially when it comes to their children’s health. But try as we may, we cannot always protect them from everything and at one point or another when children are growing up, they will inevitably get sick. As parents we must be ready for this and knowledge is always our best line of defense, knowing how to spot common illnesses and some not so common ones will always be advantageous to you.
In the last few years, there is an unlikely illness that is currently making a comeback: scarlet fever. When a child has scarlet fever their little bodies will become covered in a terrible rash, it is very important to be able to spot this illness and seek treatment for your little ones as soon as you do.
Below is everything you need to know about scarlet fever to help you protect and take care of your child.
What is scarlet fever?
Scarlet fever is a disease which can occur as a result of a group A streptococcus (group A strep) infection. The signs and symptoms include a sore throat, fever, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, and a characteristic rash. The rash is red and feels like sandpaper and the tongue may be red and bumpy.
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.
Scarlet first starts with a rash that looks like a sunburn and feels like sandpaper. It typically begins on the face or neck and spreads to the trunk, arms and legs. If pressure is applied to the reddened skin, it will turn pale.
- Red lines: The folds of skin around the groin, armpits, elbows, knees and neck 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 it’s 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 signs and symptoms have subsided, the skin affected by the rash often peels. Other signs and symptoms associated with scarlet fever include:
- Fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or higher, often with chills
Very sore and red throat, sometimes with white or yellowish patches
Enlarged glands in the neck (lymph nodes) that are tender to the touch
Nausea or vomiting
What should you do?
Eating is painful for children with strep throat, so it’s best to serve them soft food and liquids. Make sure you kid drinks plenty of fluids and give them over-the-counter children’s pain killers for throat pain and fever.
If your child has a rash as well as a sore throat, fever or swollen glands, call a doctor. This is especially important if your child has symptoms of strep throat or if anyone at their daycare or school has had a strep infection recently.
If your child has scarlet fever, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic. Make sure your child completes the full course of medication. Failure to follow the treatment guidelines may not completely eliminate the infection and will increase your child’s risk of developing complications.
Your child can return to school when he or she has taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours and no longer has a fever.
The best prevention strategies for scarlet fever are the same as the standard precautions against infections:
- Wash your hands. Show your child how to wash his or her hands thoroughly with warm soapy water.
Don’t share dining utensils or food. As a rule, your child shouldn’t share drinking glasses or eating utensils with friends or classmates. This rule applies to sharing food, too.
Cover your mouth and nose. Tell your child to cover his or her mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing to prevent the potential spread of germs.
If your child has scarlet fever, wash his or her drinking glasses, utensils and, if possible, toys in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher.
Please share this important information with your friends and family who have kids so they can be informed about scarlet fever too. Every parent should know the signs and symptoms of this illness.