Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis

Scarlet fever occurs mainly in children and is characterized by a bright red rash. It is caused by a reaction to a toxin produced by a specific type of strep infection. Not everyone that has a strep infection will have scarlet fever develop. It is contagious and is spread by direct contact. It can be detected by a throat culture.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Signs and symptoms usually occur during a 3– to 6-day period. First a high fever, sore throat, enlarged lymph glands, cough, and vomiting develop. Next, a bright red rash is seen on the face, and the tongue becomes red. The rash then spreads to the body. Finally, by the sixth day, the rash begins to fade and the skin begins to peel. This continues for 10–14 days. If untreated complications can occur.

Treatment include antibiotics such as penicillin or erythromycin. Bed rest is needed. The child should be kept away from others to prevent the spread of the disease. No special diet is needed, but fluid intake should be increased. Using a cool-mist vaporizer as well as gargling with warm salt water can help ease the sore throat.

The DOs
• Keep the child away from others. Generally he can return to school in 2 weeks.
• Take the antibiotics until finished.
• Rest in bed until symptoms subside.
• Use a cool-mist vaporizer and a warm salt-water gargle to ease the sore throat.
• Use Tylenol or tepid sponge baths to reduce fever.
• Increase fluid intake. Offer liquid or soft foods until the sore throat subsides.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t skip doses or stop antibiotics until finished.
• Don’t send a child to school until the infection is cleared.
• Don’t expose others to the disease.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If the fever returns (temperature greater than 101°F) after it has been gone for a few days.
• If nausea or vomiting develops.
• If a severe headache or earache develops.
• If chest pain and a cough that produces thick sputum develop.
• If the areas of peeling skin show signs of infection.

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