Infectious Diseases 2022

Scarlet fever: what é, symptoms, transmission and treatment

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Scarlet fever: what é, symptoms, transmission and treatment
Scarlet fever: what é, symptoms, transmission and treatment

Scarlet fever is a contagious disease caused by the group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus bacteria, which causes symptoms such as sore throat, high fever, intense redness of the tongue and itchy sandpaper-like skin.

Although scarlet fever infection is much more common in school-age children between the ages of 5 and 15, it can also affect adults and is transmitted primarily through coughing and sneezing.

Scarlet fever can cause a lot of discomfort and is extremely contagious, however, it is not considered a serious infection and can be easily treated with the use of an antibiotic, usually penicillin.

Main symptoms

The most characteristic symptom of scarlet fever is the onset of a very severe sore throat with a high fever, but other common signs and symptoms include:

  • Red, raspberry-colored tongue;
  • White plaques on tongue;
  • White patches on throat;
  • Redness in the cheeks;
  • Lack of appetite;
  • Excessive fatigue;
  • Tummy pain.

Several reddish spots may appear on the skin, with a texture similar to several pinheads and their appearance may even look like sandpaper. After 2 or 3 days it is common for the skin to start to peel. Check out other scarlet fever symptoms.

The diagnosis of scarlet fever is based on the pediatrician's assessment of the signs and symptoms of the disease, but laboratory tests may also be ordered to confirm the infection, which may include a rapid test to identify the bacteria or a microbial culture from saliva.

How to get scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is transmitted through the air through the inhalation of droplets originating from the coughing or sneezing of another infected person.

Scarlet fever, although it is more common in children, can also affect adults, and can happen up to 3 times in a lifetime, as there are 3 different forms of the bacteria that cause this disease. The times when children are most affected are spring and summer.

Indoor environments favor the spread of the disease, such as daycare centers, schools, offices, cinemas and shopping malls. However, although a person can come into contact with the bacteria that cause the disease, this does not mean that they develop it, as this will depend on their immune system. So if one of the brothers develops scarlet fever the other may just suffer from tonsillitis.

How the treatment is done

The main form of treatment for scarlet fever is a single injection of Penicillin.However, if there is an allergy to penicillin, or if the parents prefer, treatment can be done with another antibiotic, such as erythromycin, usually in the form of a syrup that must be administered for 10 days.

The treatment of scarlet fever lasts between 7 to 10 days, but after 2 to 3 days it is expected that the symptoms will alleviate or disappear completely. Even so, the use of the antibiotic, if it lasts for 10 days, must be continued until the end.

What to eat during treatment

Scarlet fever can cause severe sore throat, as well as discomfort in the entire mouth, so it is recommended to eat liquid or pasty foods, ideally fresh or at room temperature, such as vegetable soup with egg or boiled chicken, for example. Other good examples include puree, gelatin, fruit juice and yogurt smoothies.

Very hot foods should be avoided to avoid aggravating the discomfort in the throat. Bread, biscuits and toast can also be consumed, as long as they are dipped in milk or tea.

How to relieve symptoms naturally

In addition to the use of antibiotics to cure the disease, there are also other precautions that help relieve symptoms and make the child more comfortable, such as:

  • Bathing in lukewarm water (not too hot or cold) to help relieve fever;
  • Place cold compresses or a wet towel with cold water on the forehead and armpits to help reduce fever.
  • Regularly rub warm chamomile or eucalyptus tea on the skin to refresh and relieve itching;
  • Apply mineral oils or moisturizing creams to moisturize, reduce redness and prevent skin flaking.

During the treatment, and until the symptoms have disappeared, it is also advisable to rest at home, so that the body can recover more easily and to prevent the transmission of the infection.

Possible complications

Scarlet fever is usually easily treated with the antibiotic indicated by the doctor, and complications are rare. However, although rare, there can be rheumatic fever, which is damage to the heart valves, and kidney damage that can progress to renal failure.

Treatment with antibiotics in the time recommended by the doctor prevents the emergence of the main complications of this disease.

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