Scarlet fever is an acute infectious disease caused by bacteria (v.a. Streptococcus pyogenes). There are typical symptoms such as z.B. pink rash or fever.
What is scarlet fever?
Scarlet fever is a highly contagious disease caused by bacteria (streptococci). Streptococci come in different types, they are very resistant and can survive for a long time on surfaces of toys or drinking glasses. Mostly children fall ill between the third and twelfth year of life. Most children pick up the pathogens in kindergarten or at school. Infected children should stay at home to avoid infecting others through sneezing, coughing or saliva contact. If the bacterial infection is not treated, serious secondary diseases can occur, such as rheumatic fever.
Even if children have been through an infection, they are not immune to scarlet fever because the causative bacteria easily transform to trick the immune system. So you can get scarlet fever more than once. The infection then proceeds with weaker symptoms.
Scarlet fever can also occur in adults. The symptoms of some patients are similar to tonsillitis, others have the same symptoms as children.
How scarlet fever develops?
In contrast to many other childhood diseases, which are caused by viruses, scarlet fever is caused by bacteria. These bacteria develop a toxin that spreads throughout the body through the blood.
How to recognize scarlet fever?
After an incubation period of two to eight days, the following symptoms appear:
– High fever (39 degrees and above), febrile convulsions, chills – Sore throat, difficulty swallowing – Nausea, vomiting – Swelling lymph nodes – Skin rash that appears within twelve hours of the onset of the above symptoms: it begins in the groin area as well as in the armpits and then quickly spreads over the entire body. It consists of many, closely spaced, pinkish, rough spots that look like velvet, feels like fine sandpaper and fades when you press on it. The overall picture is reminiscent of goose bumps. The rash is not itchy and fades after about six days, the skin scaly. Especially the palms of the hands peel off in large shreds of skin. – Intense redness of the cheeks with typical pale triangle of the mouth where the redness is left out. – In the early stages of the disease, the tongue is covered in white with small red spots. On the third to fourth day it turns bright red, resembling a "strawberry tongue" with small dots. There is also inflammation of the pharyngeal tonsils.
How to diagnose scarlet fever?
The doctor will order a throat swab to identify the pathogens. If the findings are not conclusive, a blood test can still be performed.
How is scarlet fever treated?
Scarlet fever is treated by antibiotics and fever reduction. Even if the child's condition improves, the prescribed antibiotic must be taken consistently for the prescribed duration (usually 10 days) to completely destroy the bacteria. Otherwise, the infection could flare up again.
If a scarlet fever infection in pregnant women is treated immediately with antibiotics, the infection is not dangerous for mother and child.
How to prevent scarlet fever?
Specific prevention is not possible. There is no vaccination. However, anything that strengthens the immune system can help prevent infection.
How does the disease progress?
The rash disappears after a few days, and after a week the other symptoms diminish significantly. Then the skin begins to peel, especially on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, often accompanied by severe itching. If the disease is not treated with antibiotics, a painful swelling of the lymph glands on the jaw may occur after ten days. Other possible complications are inflammation of the middle ear, kidney inflammation or an abscess of the pharyngeal tonsils. Rarely, "rheumatic fever" may also occur, which can lead to permanent heart damage.
When to see a doctor for scarlet fever?
If you have any of the above symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately. The administration of antibiotics can prevent the development of serious secondary diseases such as inflammation of the joints, kidneys and heart muscle. Two to three days after starting antibiotic therapy, scarlet fever is no longer contagious.
What are the home remedies for scarlet fever?
Drink plenty of fluids. The child should be on bed rest if he or she has a fever. High fever can be reduced with cold calf wraps. Against the throat and swallowing difficulties helps heat in the form of a hot water bottle or warm drinks.