Scarlet Fever in Babies & Toddlers: Causes, Signs & Treatment

Scarlet Fever in Babies and Toddlers

There was a time when many children died of scarlet fever. As the treatment options were limited back then, scarlet fever posed a threat. Today, the illness is rare and treatments are available.

What is Scarlet Fever?

Also known as Scarlatina, scarlet fever is an infection that causes bright red rashes and is accompanied by high fever and a sore throat. Scarlet fever is caused by the bacteria called “type-A Streptococcus.”

Is it Common in Infants and Toddlers?

Infants still have some of the immunity strength left in their systems from their time spent in their mother’s womb, and so they are not very easily affected by this disease.

Who Is at the Risk of Getting Scarlet Fever?

Children between the ages of two and twelve years are most susceptible to this illness as by this time the immunity strength they had gained from their mother while in the womb starts to fade away, and they will need to develop their own immunity strength.

Is Scarlet Fever Contagious?

Scarlet fever is extremely contagious, and the bacteria can be passed along to others when a person who has the infection, coughs, sneezes, or even when he exhales. This is why children who are suspected of having this disease are often pulled out of nursery or school until they are totally and completely healed.

What Are the Causes of Scarlet Fever in Babies and Toddlers?

Scarlet fever is caused by “type-A Streptococcus” that produces a toxic substance that results in scarlet-coloured rashes and fever. The rashes are what give this disease its name. The bacteria are also responsible for causing strep throat and some other skin problems.

This disease is predominantly passed around through contact with infected people, but it is also possible to develop this disease after having been infected by certain skin diseases like impetigo, a bacterial skin infection, that is seen as red sores and are easily broken and after which, produce honey-coloured crusts.

Scarlet fever

What Are the Signs of Scarlet Fever in Infants and Toddlers?

The first sign of this disease is a sore throat and fever. The rashes show up at least a day or two after this. Here are some other signs of scarlet fever in infants and toddlers:

  • Tongue appears to have a white coating, making it resemble a white strawberry. Eventually, it turns bright red.
  • Rashes begin to appear along the throat and then spread throughout the body. The face will appear flushed, but when the skin is pressed, it turns white. These rashes will itch.
  • If rashes appear on the creases of the skin like on the elbows and knees, then they will appear red and streaky. These streaky red lines are known as pastia’s lines.
  • Lymph nodes and tonsils will swell.
  • Some of the other symptoms include nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, chills, body aches, and fever.

How Is Scarlet Fever Diagnosed in Young Children?

If your child is displaying the symptoms shown above, it is best to take him to a doctor for a check-up. The doctor will examine your child’s throat and skin, after which he may ask to have a blood test done, or a simple strep test that will help in diagnosing the disease. Once your child has been diagnosed, the doctor will suggest the right treatment. It is very important to diagnose and begin treatment in the early stages of this disease.

Treatment for Scarlet Fever in a Child

While tonsils and swollen glands need a few weeks to heal, scarlet fever can be treated with a course of antibiotics that need to be taken for ten days. This will need to be prescribed by your doctor. Twenty-four hours after taking the antibiotics, the child will no longer be contagious.

Though the symptoms may go before the ten-day period is over, it is highly advised that you complete the entire course to avoid any further complications in future. If the fever persists for more than forty-eight hours after beginning the course, take him back to the doctor for a check-up.

Complications of Scarlet Fever

The risks of scarlet fever in babies and toddlers include higher chances of contracting other health complications such as sinus, ear infections, brain abscess, meningitis, and pneumonia, and throat infections.

More serious health problems like kidney damage, rheumatic fever, and chicken pox are also some complications that may arise as a result of having scarlet fever. Thankfully, these very rarely happen unless scarlet fever has been left untreated for a long time.

Tips to Take Care of a Child with Scarlet Fever

You always want to take the best care of your child, and when he is suffering from an illness like scarlet fever, care is all the more important. Here are some tips to help you look after your child if he has scarlet fever:

  • Always make sure that the room is at the average room temperature so that you can prevent your child from either becoming too hot or too cold.
  • Do not wrap your baby in extra layers if he is feverish.
  • Make sure to keep him hydrated.
  • Do not try to cool him off by applying a cool compress, towel, sponge or anything of the kind as this will cause the blood vessels to constrict, locking the heat in the body.
  • If your baby has a dry and sore throat, use a cool-mist humidifier at night.
  • If your child has a sore throat, feed your child only soft or liquid foods.
  • Ensure that your child gets enough rest.
  • Give your child tea and warm liquids.

How Can You Prevent Scarlet Fever from Spreading?

Scarlet Fever can spread easily if proper care is not taken. Here are some tips to help you prevent it from spreading:

  • Thoroughly sanitize your child’s cutlery, clothes, towel, and bathing sponge before and after use. Make sure to keep them separate from your things.
  • Cover his mouth and nose while he sneezes and makes sure to protect yourself by wearing a medical mask.
  • Sanitize your hands and the clothes you wear while handling him.
  • Ensure that his nails are cut short so that he cannot scratch the rash.

Do All the Infants and Toddlers Having a Strep Throat Get Scarlet Fever?

A strep throat can lead to scarlet fever in some as it is caused by the same bacteria, but not everyone who gets strep throat will also contract scarlet fever.

Thankfully, your baby will not get scarlet fever more than once, though he may get strep throat. Always remember to keep an eye on the symptoms and get help as soon as possible because while scarlet fever is not as deadly as it once was; treating the illness in its early stages is important if you want your child to heal without experiencing any further complications.

Also Read: Baby Teething Fever

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