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Scarlet Fever: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Scarlet Fever: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

by Zahra Ijaz · September 5, 2021

Scarlet fever is a bacterial illness that develops when you already are suffering from strep throat.
Also termed Scarlantina, it is characterized as a bright red rash that covers most parts of your body.
If you do not get treatment, it can result in severe complications.
You can treat scarlet fever with the help of antibiotics, however, to ease a sore throat and other symptoms, you can use home remedies that we will discuss in the article as well.
Keep on reading to learn more about Scarlet Fever in detail.


Scarlet Fever

Scarlet fever or Scarlantinia is an infection that anyone can suffer from. Most importantly, it is often present if you have strep throat.

Moreover, it is characterized by a bright red rash on the body along with a high fever and sore throat.

If you do not get treatment or leave it untreated it can cause severe complications like rheumatic fever, kidney diseases, pneumonia, ear infections, etc.

Let’s learn more about it.

Scarlet Fever

It is important to note that Scarlet Fever is most common in children from 5 to 15 years of age.

Though Scarlet fever was once considered a serious childhood illness, with the help of antibiotics, the treatment is easy today.

However, if you do not get treatment for Scarlet fever, it can result in more serious medical conditions that can affect the heart, kidneys, and other parts of the body.

Risk Factors for Scarlet Fever
Scarlet fever most commonly affects children and you catch the fever from close contact with those who are already suffering from it.

Complications Associated with Scarlet Fever

In most cases, a rash and other symptoms of scarlet fever resolve in 10 days to 2 weeks with the help of antibiotic treatment.

However, it can cause serious complications in some cases.

ear infection

These complications are as follows:

Rheumatic fever, kidney disease or glomerulonephritis, ear infections, throat abscesses, pneumonia, or arthritis.

You can avoid ear infections, throat abscesses, and pneumonia with early treatment and proper antibiotic treatment.

However, other complications can result in your body’s immune system to the infection rather than bacteria themselves.

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Symptoms of Scarlet Fever

Understanding the signs and symptoms of scarlet fever is an important step as early diagnosis can reduce the risk of serious complications.

Most often, a rash is a common sign and symptom of scarlet fever in both adults and children. The incubation period can range from 2 to 5 days before you feel ill or after it.

Let’s discuss it in the following section

symptoms of scarlet fever

A rash can develop in both adults and children and usually begins as a red blotchy rash and becomes fine and rough like sandpaper.

The scarlet-colored rash is what gives this disease its name.

It can begin up to 2 to 3 days before you feel ill or up to 7 days after, according to studies.

It is important to note that the rash usually begins on your neck, groin, and under your arms.

Then it spreads to other parts of your body. However, the folds of skin in your armpits, elbows, and knees can become deeper red than the surrounding skin.

After the rash subsides, about 7 days, your skin on the tips of the fingers, toes, and groin may also peel. This can last for a number of weeks.

Other Symptoms of Scarlet Fever

Other common symptoms of Scarlet Fever are as follows;

Red Creases in the armpits, elbows, and knees or Pastia’s lines, flushed face, strawberry tongue, or a white tongue with red dots on the surface of the tongue.


Moreover, red, sore throat with white or yellow patches, fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit, chills, headaches, swollen tonsils, nausea, and vomiting, abdominal pain, swelling in the glands of the neck, and pale skin around your lips are the other symptoms.

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Causes of Scarlet Fever

Scarlet fever is caused by a group A Streptococcus, or Streptococcus Pyogenes bacteria.

This bacteria can live in your mouth and nasal passages. Human beings are the main source of this bacteria.

They can produce a toxin, or poison, that causes a bright red rash on your body.

causes of scarlet fever

Moreover, this infection can spread from one person to another via droplets when they cough or sneeze.

The incubation period or the time between exposure and illness is usually 2 to 4 days.
Is it Contagious?
Before you gell ill, this infection can spread 2 to 5 days before and can spread through contact with droplets from your saliva, nasal secretions, sneeze, or cough.

This means that any person can contract scarlet fever if they come directly in contact with the infected droplets and then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes.

You can also get it if you drink from the same glass or eat off of the same utensils as a person with infections.

In some cases, it can also spread through contaminated foods.

Group A strep can cause a skin infection as well, and these infections or cellulitis can spread the bacteria to others as well.

However, touching the rash of scarlet fever will not spread the bacteria as the rash is a result of the toxin, not the bacteria itself.


Treatment and Home Remedies

The treatment of scarlet fever depends on the early diagnosis to avoid complications.

Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat it, and these medications will kill the bacteria and help your body’s immune system fight it off.

Let’s learn more about it.

treatment of scarlet fever

Diagnosis of Scarlet Fever

Your child’s doctor or pediatric doctor will perform a physical exam for the signs of scarlet fever.

During this, they will particularly check the condition of your child’s tongue, throat, and tonsils.

Moreover, they will also for enlarged lymph nodes and examine the appearance and texture of the rash on the body.

If the doctor diagnosis scarlet fever, then they will likely swab the back of the throat to collect the sample of cells for analysis.

This is Throat Swab and helps to create a throat culture.

At the laboratory, the doctor will examine the culture under a microscope to determine whether group A streptococcus is present or not.

There is also a rapid throat swab test that your doctor can perform in the office. This can help identify the group A strep infection while you wait.

Treatment Options

With the help of antibiotics, you can treat scarlet fever.

These antibiotics help to kill the bacteria in your body and also help your immune system to fight off the bacteria that are causing infection.

You can also take OTC, over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, Tylenol, for fever and pain.

It is important to consult your doctor if you are giving it to your child. Make sure to ask if your child is of enough age to receive ibuprofen, Advil, or Mortin.


However, as an adult, you can use acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

It is important to note that one should not use Aspirin at any age during an illness with fever as it increases your risk of developing Reye’s Syndrome.

Moreover, your child’s doctor may also prescribe other medications to help ease the pain of the sore throat.

Other remedies include eating ice pops, ice cream, o warm soup.

Additionally, gargling with salt water and using a cool air humidifier can also help to decrease the severity and pain of a sore throat.

Make sure your child drinks enough water to avoid dehydration.
They can return to school after your child has taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours and no longer have a fever.

There is no vaccine for scarlet fever or group A strep, though many clinical vaccines are in clinical development.

Preventing The Fever

Practicing good hygiene is the best way to prevent scarlet fever. The following are some ways and prevention tips to follow.

Moreover, it is important that your child also follow these preventive tips as well.

wash your hands

Wash your hands before meals and after using the restroom, and wash your hands anytime you cough and sneeze.

Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing and do not share the utensils, and drinking glasses with others, especially in group settings.

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Home Remedies To Manage Your Symptoms

You will need antibiotics to treat Scarlet Fever. However, there are certain remedies you can try to help ease the symptoms and discomfort that come with it.

The following are a few remedies you can try at home.

Make sure to drink warm teas or broth-based soups to help soothe your throat, try soft foods or a liquid diet as eating can sometimes be painful.

Moreover, you can take OTC Tylenol, or ibuprofen to ease the throat pain.

Use OTC anti-itch cream or medications to relieve itching.

Stay hydrated with water to moisten your throat and avoid dehydration.


Suck on throat lozenges that help to relieve sore throats.

Stay away from irritants in the air like pollution, try a saltwater gargle for throat pain, do not smoke, and humidify the air to strop throat irritation from dry air.

Learn more about Dengue Fever here.

Final Thoughts

Scarlet fever is due to bacteria that can survive in your mouth and nasal passages, and can also be contiguous if you or someone close to you comes in contact with it.
One of the most common warning signs of this fever is the bright red rash that appears on the skin.

Your doctor can help to diagnose it, and after diagnosis, you will have to take antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria. Make sure to follow the treatment plan, as if you do not get proper treatment the fever can cause complications.

Washing your hands before and after meals, washing your hands after using the restroom, covering your mouth, and nose while you sneeze or cough is some ways to prevent it. Moreover, in case you are suffering from it, drinking tea, or warm soup, throat lozenges, using OTC medications like ibuprofen, anti-itch creams, or medications, and drinking enough water are some home remedies that can help.

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