Scarlatina, also known as scarlet fever is a disease that is characterized by symptoms such as sore throat, headache and fever with scarlatina rash developing 1 or 2 days later. The condition is most common among children of age group 4-14 years. Typically antibiotics will help relieve this illness but if scarlet fever is left untreated it may turn into serious conditions such as heart and kidney disease.
Scarlatina rash looks like red blotches which turn into pink-red colored rash which look similar to sunburn skin. These rashes start from one point and continue to spread all over the body. Ears, chest, elbow, groin, neck and inner thighs are usually affected and affected area may itch as well. However face generally remains unaffected but cheeks become flushed and area around mouth becomes pale. The rash become white in color if a glass is pressed on it.
Scarlatina rash do not require any treatment as such and disappear on its own in a week’s time or so. The outer layer of the skin mostly on hands and feet may peel off for weeks after the rash have disappeared.
Milder form of scarlet fever usually has only one symptom i.e. scarlatina rash.
Symptoms of scarlet fever
• Bright red bumps, also known as scarlatina rash
• Reddened sore throat
• Fever above 101 degree F
• Loss of appetite
• Difficulty swallowing
• Neck glands get swollen up
• Red lines are formed in the folds of body e.g. Armpit
• Feeling of being unwell
• White coating on tongue, tonsil and back of the throat.
• Chills and body ache
Scarlatina rash and redness in the affected area lasts for about a week and then symptoms begin to subside.
Causes of scarlet fever or scarlatina
Scarlatina is caused by erythrogenic exotoxin that is released by Streptococcus pyogenes or group beta-hemolytic streptococcus. Scarlet fever is referred to as scarlatina when it is in less acute form and has one symptom i.e. scarlatina rash. Basically scarlatina is a bacterial illness that occurs when bacteria release toxins. Primarily it is caused by the same type of bacteria that cause strep throat.
How does scarlatina rash or fever spread?
Scarlet fever is highly contagious and people can easily catch it by simply breathing in the bacteria in airborne droplets from infected person at the time he coughs or sneezes. The incubation period for scarlatina fever is normally 1 to 5 days.
It can also spread by coming in contact with the person having streptococcal skin infection. Also, it spreads if you use contaminated towel, clothes, baths, bed linen etc. Scarlet fever symptoms can also be transferred from carriers even from the person who has scarlet causing bacteria in his throat or skin but no visible symptom. Anyone who is susceptible to toxins produced by streptococcus bacteria will develop symptoms of scarlet fever. It is believed that children above the age of 10 will develop immunity to these toxins. Also, scarlet symptoms can occur more than once in a lifetime.
When to see a doctor
If you suspect your child has developed scarlet fever or scarlatina rash, you should immediately visit a healthcare provider. The doctor will first examine the symptoms by just looking at the rash and other symptoms. He may also ask certain questions such as since when have you developed symptoms or you have come in contact with a person already suffering from scarlatina rash. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will take a sample of saliva from the throat and test it in the laboratory.
For pregnant women, it is difficult to say whether scarlet fever will affect your child or not. However it is advised that you should see your doctor in case you have been in contact with someone already suffering from scarlet fever.
Scarlet fever should not be left untreated as it may worsen over the due course of time. If it is not treated at the right time, it may turn into serious complications like pneumonia, ear infections, kidney problem and rheumatic fever.
The most popular treatment of scarlatina rash is with antibiotic tablets. The doctor would prescribe these medications for the course of 10 days but people with scarlatina symptoms recover within 1 week. Treatment will prevent further problems but there are equal chances of person developing infections in other parts of the body.
Since scarlet is a contagious disease so it is important to make sure that your or family does not come in contact with a person suffering from scarlet fever. Also if you are suffering from scarlet fever, avoid going out of the house until you have taken course of antibiotics for at least 2 days.
Tissues, clothes or bed linen that have been used by the person with scarlet fever should be washed or disposed of. If you have come in contact with any of these, wash your hands thoroughly. Do not share contaminated cups, glasses, towels, glasses etc.
Scarlatina rash pictures