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Scarlet fever in children

Just as there are diseases that usually occur almost exclusively to people who have passed a certain age, there are also diseases that, on the contrary, usually happen, in almost 100% of cases, to children. Above all, to children under 15 years of age. Such is the case of scarlet fever in children , a curious disease with a high rate of infection that usually appears almost exclusively in this sector of the population.

If you are interested in the subject, do not stop reading. We want to inform you about this disease, what is scarlet fever, what are its symptoms and even what are the treatments that are carried out to treat this disease that afflicts the smallest of the home.

What is scarlet fever?

Scarlet fever is an infectious disease characterized by a constant fever and a red, rough rash or rash on the skin. These rashes, similar to those that appear in some types of allergies and other infections, are known by the name of exanthemas and tend to be quite annoying, especially because they produce a quite acute itchy sensation. It is also known as scarlet fever precisely because of both characteristics that are predominant in this infection.

How is scarlet fever spread in children?

Scarlet fever is caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes or Group A Streptococcus , a bacteria that usually lodges in the throat and nose. It can appear after suffering from tonsillitis or streptococcal pharyngitis , since the cause of this disease is also the same bacteria. The disease is highly contagious. In fact, this is the way it is usually contracted, through contagion.

Scarlet fever is spread through direct contact with the bacteria, usually through mucus and saliva expelled by people who are infected with the bacteria. The most common method of infection is having come into contact with an object or food belonging to an infected person, since it is possible that these objects or food are also infected with the bacteria.

There is also the possibility of becoming infected when we speak with people who are carriers of the disease, since when they speak they expel small drops of saliva that remain in the air and that can be accidentally inhaled, causing contact with the bacteria.

It is for this reason that closed environments such as classrooms, shopping centers or homes, become centers for the spread of the disease. In these places the bacteria are usually concentrated in the air, which facilitates the spread to healthy people, especially those whose immune system is weakened by some other disease such as the flu or an allergy.

Finally, another contagion method is to have contact with the rash once it has dried . This case is very unlikely, however, there is the possibility of contagion. Thus, it is recommended to be careful with rashes, even when they seem most harmless.

Symptoms of scarlet fever in children

The two main symptoms of this disease have already been mentioned; these are exanthemas, also known as rash, and fever, both symptoms that identify this disease. However, there are also other symptoms of scarlet fever in children that are less noticeable from the observer’s point of view, although they are also present and are quite annoying. In general, the symptoms of scarlet fever in children are:


As in any case of symptomatic infection, fever is present. In the case of scarlet fever, the fever can easily exceed 38 or 39 degrees depending on the intensity of the infection. In some cases, it can even go above 40 degrees. You have to be careful when the fevers are so high, as it can become a real health hazard.


The rash is the characteristic symptom of this disease , it is the reason why it is known by the name of scarlet fever. In the case of scarlet fever, the rashes that occur are characterized by appearing on a large part of the skin, almost uniformly, accompanied by redness of the skin and quite annoying itching.


As in many cases of infections, scarlet fever in children can cause headaches that vary in intensity . In some cases, these headaches even affect the auditory pathways, causing the child to feel pain in the ears.

Dizziness and nausea

Another common symptom that occurs with scarlet fever is sudden dizziness and especially nausea, which does not always end in vomiting, although it is very likely that they do. If by chance, the child begins to vomit uncontrollably and appears to be dehydrating, it is best to take him to a doctor, as this can cause serious damage if not controlled.

Throat pain

During scarlet fever, the tonsils are often very swollen and can actually be seen without the need for special equipment. A particular feature is that it is possible that a strange layer with a white to yellow color is produced on the tonsils. This is normal, and will go away with the infection. This inflammation brings with it a lot of sore throat.

Pain when swallowing

When a child suffers from scarlet fever, they have a very annoying problem that can sometimes make them want to eat or drink. This problem is the pain that appears when swallowing food . This is due to another of the symptoms of the disease, which is a sore throat due to inflammation of the pharynx and tonsils. The pain can vary in intensity, however, there are cases in which the child cannot even swallow saliva without feeling the sensation of pain when doing so.

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Tongue whitening

In the case of the tongue, it turns white and has a series of red dots on the entire surface. This color is known as the strawberry look, due to its multiple red spots spread throughout the tongue. It generally does not have major complications.

Shaking chills

Common in all those infections in which fevers above 38 ° occur. During scarlet fever, high fever can cause chills in the child , especially in cases where they live in very cool areas or with very good ventilation.

Diagnosis of scarlet fever

The diagnosis of this disease is quite straightforward. The first suspicion usually appears when the fever and rash appear. At the moment in which the most visible symptoms evolve, that is, the rash increases and the strawberry-like tongue appears, the presence of the disease becomes more noticeable, so it is common to go to the doctor if you want to rule out other pathologies.

Once at the nearest health center, the doctor will perform a smear of the tonsils and take the sample to a laboratory where a culture will be made to determine if there is the presence of the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes . If the bacteria are present in the sample, it will be immediately confirmed that it is scarlet fever.

Treatment of scarlet fever in children

By itself, treating scarlet fever is not complicated at all, however, it requires following some specific steps that will help prevent the disease from spreading, after all, it is quite contagious and can spread easily. The treatment of scarlet fever consists mainly of:

Medical treatment

The basic treatment for scarlet fever consists of antibiotics. This is the most efficient way and the one that any doctor will prescribe to treat the symptoms of the disease. The antibiotic used will depend entirely on the doctor and the possible allergies that the child may have to any type of medicine.

The average treatment is maintained for about 10 days, in which the child should be on a constant regimen of antibiotics to help control symptoms such as fever, rash and infection itself.

Total rest

In addition to this, other details such as rest must be taken into account. During the disease process, it is best to keep the child in a state of complete rest, at least while the symptoms are relieved. Total rest inside the room is recommended, for two reasons:

  1. To avoid physical wear and tear and accelerate recovery, it is better to rest, in addition to that, in this way and with the correct use of medical treatment, complications that may worsen the severity of the disease can be avoided.
  2. Another reason is to control the infection. Being such a contagious disease, it is easy for it to pass from person to person if the necessary precautions are not taken, and one of them is to keep total rest.

Another point that must be taken into account to avoid the spread of this disease is that the parents, who generally have contact with the sick child, reduce the contact they have with any other healthy child, since even without having the disease, they may be transporting the bacteria without even knowing it.


Hydration is very important during the treatment of this disease. It is recommended as much as possible the consumption of liquids throughout the day . This will not only help you refresh your body and combat some of the annoying symptoms like a sore throat, but it will help to replace all the fluids lost during vomiting and sweating. In addition, it will help cleanse the body inside.

Staying in a cool environment

It is important that, during the illness, you keep your child as cool as possible . In this way you can help relieve fever, which you must remember is quite high. Another positive point of keeping a cool environment, especially at night, is that it allows you to combat cough problems.

Are there complications?

One of the most frequently asked questions when talking about diseases in children is whether there are any possible complications. In the case of scarlet fever, the answer is yes, there are possible complications if this disease is not treated in time . However, and for the luck of all, these complications are not very frequent, at least not while the treatment is carried out on time and properly. The two complications that can occur if this disease is not treated are:

Rheumatic fever

Group A streptococcus, after infection, can release certain germs that have the peculiarity of resembling the tissues of the human body. These usually lodge in different parts of the body and generate an autoimmune reaction that can lead to the death of healthy cells within the body.

Rheumatic fever does not have a clear medical diagnosis, however, its symptoms are recognizable, so it can be diagnosed calmly once it appears. Of course, it can be confused with some other disease, since it can take up to a few months to appear after the scarlet fever has ended. Therefore, it is not 100% possible to recognize until you go to the doctor.


Dark bloody urine, high blood pressure, and protein loss are just some of the symptoms of Glomerulonephritis , a disease that can result from the complication of scarlet fever in children. This disease is characterized by an inflammation in the glomeruli, small filters that are located in the kidneys and whose function is to eliminate excess electrolytes, fluids and wastes from the blood. This disease, despite being a complication, usually heals by itself with little treatment and without leaving any type of sequelae.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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