What is Scarlet Fever?
Scarlet fever is an infectious bacterial illness which most commonly affects children and is caused by the Group A streptococcal virus. While this illness used to be considered a scary and often fatal disease, it is now controlled and easily treated. Children with scarlet fever often first present with a high fever and a distinctive rash.
It is also associated with a sore throat, an achy body and a swollen red "strawberry" tongue which can remain swollen for days after the initial infection. It must be noted that scarlet fever is not the same as rheumatic fever, although in some children the scarlet fever may progress into rheumatic fever a serious complication that can result in long term consequences.
Diagnosing Scarlet Fever
It is important to call your health care practitioner if your child presents with a rash accompanied with a fever, especially if this is accompanied by a sore throat, swollen glands or if someone your child has been in contact with has had a strep throat infection.
Your doctor will first examine your child’s rash to determine whether the rash is more likely to be another childhood illness such as measles, rubella, roseola or glandular fever. If scarlet fever is then suspected, a throat swab will be able to determine the presence of streptococcus bacteria thus confirming the diagnosis.
Symptoms of Scarlet Fever
The most distinguishing symptom of scarlet fever is the characteristic rash which is fine, red and has a rough sand-paper-like texture, often first resembling bad sunburn, which then becomes itchy. The rash usually appears between 12 and 24 hours after the fever begins, and most commonly begins on the chest, under the armpits, behind the ears and on the face leaving a clear unaffected area around the mouth. This often gives children a "slapped cheek" appearance as the cheeks become bright red. After about four days the rash fades and starts peeling. Other symptoms include:
- High fever (usually between 101-104 degrees F)
- Sore throat(ailment/natural-sore-throat-remedies.html) or infected tonsils
- Nausea or vomiting
- Tongue (which may be swollen) with red spots referred to as a strawberry tongue
- Loss of appetite
What Causes Scarlet Fever?
Scarlet fever is caused by the Group A streptococcal bacteria which are the same bacteria responsible for a number of other throat and skin infections including strep throat, impetigo, and tonsillitis. Being highly contagious, the streptococcal bacteria are spread through contact with an infected person or by inhalation of the bacteria.
Help for Scarlet Fever
Scarlet fever is a potentially serious illness and so it is important to seek medical attention the moment your child shows symptoms. Swift treatment will prevent serious complications such as rheumatic fever, kidney disease, meningitis, and pneumonia.
Scarlet fever is usually treated with an oral course of Penicillin or other antibiotic such as erythromycin. It is essential for your child to complete the given antibiotic treatment even if they start feeling better. Many parents use over-the-counter medications to reduce fever or relieve pain Relief.
However, contradictory to popular beliefs, these too come with side effects and should thus be administered with caution. Lastly, bed rest and a healthy nutritious diet accompanied by lots of fluids will help to speed recovery.
Scarlet fever is a potentially serious medical condition and is therefore not suited to home treatment. Whether allopathic medical treatment is chosen or whether your child is treated by means of natural medicine, treatment should always be supervised and carried out by a trained health care professional.
As is the case when fighting off any illness, it is essential to boost the immune system order to support the body’s own efforts to kill off the infection. A number of herbal and homeopathic remedies can provide great benefit if used alongside allopathic medication to strengthen the body’s natural immune response.
Herbal ingredients including Echinacea purpurea, Astragalus membranaceous, Inula helenium and Withania somnifera are well known for their antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties as well as their ability to strengthen and assist the immune system to promote faster recovery. It is also important to strengthen the immune system after it’s taken a knock from illness and a lengthy course of antibiotics.
Other herbs such as Meadowsweet and Yarrow are effective in reducing and controlling fever, a prominent symptom in scarlet fever. With a little help and support from nature, your child will be bouncing about as usual in no time at all!