Scarlet Fever or Scarlatina is a fever characterized by the appearance of a red rash on the skin. This disease most often affects children aged 5-15 years. Scarlet fever is usually accompanied by sore throat and high fever. If left unchecked, this disease can affect other organs such as the kidneys and heart.
Symptoms of Scarlet Fever
The typical symptom of scarlet fever is a red or pink rash, almost all over the body. This rash looks like sunburn and feels rough. Generally the rash starts from the chest and abdomen, then spreads to all areas of the body. The rash will look redder in the folds of the skin, such as the armpits, elbows and knees.
Skin rashes usually appear around one week. After these symptoms subside, the affected skin will peel off.
Some of the other symptoms that accompany scarlet fever are:
- Fever accompanied by shivering.
- Reddish tongue with small pimples, or commonly called strawberry tongue.
- Inflammation accompanied by white or yellowish spots in the throat.
- Enlargement of lymph nodes in the neck.
- Blushing face and neck.
- Pale skin around the lips.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Difficult to swallow.
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Causes and Risk Factors of Scarlet Fever
Scarlet fever is caused by an infection of the Streptococcus pyogenes bacterium , which is often found in the mouth and nasal passages. This bacterium is a type of bacteria that causes inflammation of the throat. In patients with scarlet fever, this bacterium releases toxins that cause red rashes on the skin. Someone who has been infected with this bacterium can feel symptoms within 2-4 days of exposure to bacteria.
Streptococcus bacteria can be transmitted by splashing saliva when people with scarlet fever sneeze or cough. Transmission can also occur if someone drinks or eats from the same glass and plate as the sufferer.
Touches on objects sprinkled with saliva with scarlet fever sufferers can also be a medium of transmission. Bacteria in the hand will enter the body, if the child touches the mouth or nose without washing hands first.
Scarlet fever generally attacks children aged 5-15 years, and is more easily spread in the environment with regular interactions, such as in the family or at school.
Diagnosis of Scarlet Fever
The doctor will ask for a history of symptoms that arise, as well as perform a physical examination in the child, such as seeing the condition of the inside of the mouth such as the tongue, throat, and tonsils. The doctor will also examine the lymph nodes and check the appearance and texture of the rash.
If from the results of the examination, the child is suspected of having a child suffering from scarlet fever, the doctor will perform a throat swab culture, which is sampling with swabs behind the throat to be examined in the laboratory.
Treatment of Scarlet Fever
Generally patients recover 4-5 days after being treated. To treat scarlet fever, the doctor will give antibiotics to drink, such as penicillin , for 10 days. In patients with penicillin allergies, doctors can prescribe erythromycin as an alternative. The doctor will ask the patient to undergo treatment thoroughly, so that the infection can disappear and heal completely. Fever will generally disappear within 12-24 hours after taking antibiotics.
Self-management at home can be done, to make the patient more comfortable and reduce the pain, such as:
- Take paracetamol to relieve fever and sore throat.
- Maintain adequate fluid intake to keep the throat moist and prevent dehydration.
- Gargling with a solution of salt water to reduce sore throat.
- Eat lozenges to relieve sore throat.
- Use air moisturizer to remove dry air, which can trigger sore throat.
- Avoid irritating triggers, such as cigarette smoke or cleaning products.
- Use a calamine lotion or take an antihistamine tablet to relieve the itching that results from a rash.
Complications of Scarlet Fever
Scarlet fever, which is not immediately treated, can make bacteria spread to other organs, such as the lungs, kidneys, middle ear, tonsils, blood, and skin. In rare cases, complications that arise can be rheumatic fever , which is a serious condition that attacks the nervous system, skin, joints, and heart.
Prevention of Scarlet Fever
Scarlet fever can be prevented by blocking the spread of bacteria that cause this disease. Some infection prevention measures that can be taken include:
- Teach children to get used to washing their hands using soap until they are clean.
- Do not use the same or alternating eating utensils with patients with scarlet fever.
- Avoid sharing food, so that bacteria do not spread to other people.
- Wash food and children's toys with hot water and soap after use.
- Teach children to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, so that the bacteria do not spread to those around them.
- If the child has scarlet fever, rest him at home for 24 hours after being given antibiotics, so the infection does not spread.