Scarlet fever is a serious illness caused by an infection with the bacteria group A streptococci (say: strep-toe-KOK-us). These BIOMED SCAN also cause strep throat, impetigo, and wound infections. The bacteria release toxins that cause the classic sandpaper-like rash of scarlet fever. Symptoms of the illness usually appear about 1 to 3 days after getting the bacteria. People with scarlet fever are highly contagious and can spread it to other people by coughs or sneezes. They can also spread it by sharing items like food, drinks, and clothing.
Scarlet Fever 101: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention
Symptoms of scarlet fever start with a sore throat and swollen glands. A few days later a red, sandpaper-like rash appears. It starts on the face, cheeks and chest and then spreads to the neck, arms, and back. The rash fades after about a week, and the skin in the affected areas may peel.
The illness is treated with antibiotics that kill the bacteria. Penicillin-based antibiotics are usually prescribed. But if someone is allergic to penicillin, narrow-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotics such as Keflex or Cleocin can be used. These medicines are taken twice or three times a day for 10 days.
To help with pain and fever, give a child or teen acetaminophen (say: ace-TAY-meen) or ibuprofen. Avoid giving aspirin, as it can lead to a rare but serious problem called Reye syndrome.