Scarlatina fever occurs when a person is infected with the group A streptococcus bacteria. The infection is usually spread when someone coughs or sneezes, spraying respiratory droplets that contain the bacteria. The bacteria can also be spread if a person touches something — like a plate or cup – that has the bacteria on it. Scarlet fever is most common in kids between 5 and 12 years old, although anyone can get it.
The illness starts with a sore throat and fever, and may cause swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Then, a rash appears that gives the disease its name. The rash is red, bumpy and raised, and it feels rough like sandpaper. It often begins on the neck, groin and underarm areas, and then spreads to the rest of the body. It’s less noticeable on darker skin. The rash is often a deeper red than the surrounding skin. The rash can also make the folds of the elbows, knees and arms appear brighter red.
Scarlet Fever Unmasked: Recognizing Symptoms and Seeking Treatment
To diagnose the illness, a medical professional will swab the back of the throat to check for the presence of group A strep bacteria. They will either run a rapid strep test or send the throat sample to a lab to see whether the bacteria are present. Once the results are in, they will prescribe antibiotics. The antibiotics kill the bacteria and prevent serious complications from developing. They will also recommend that your child drink plenty of liquids, use a soft diet and take over-the-counter (OTC) medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease throat pain and headache.