Scarlet fever is a bacterial infectious disease, and children are the most often affected. The distinctive characteristic of the disease is the visible pink-red rash. In general, the condition is a lot less common than it used to be. However, recent times have seen a rise in the number of outbreaks. Because of this, health authorities have raised the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of scarlet fever.
You can catch scarlet fever from a sneeze or cough of an infected person when you breathe in the airborne droplets containing the bacteria. It can also be caught by touching the skin of an infected person who has a streptococcal skin infection. Similarly, sharing contaminated bed linen, clothes, towels, and baths with someone with the disease will pass the disease to you.
People who are carriers who do not show any signs or symptoms can also infect you. They have the bacteria on their skin or in their throat.
Signs and Symptoms of Scarlet Fever
As mentioned above, scarlet fever is highly infectious. It is caused by bacteria living in the throat or on the skin.
The initial sign is either a skin infection or a sore throat.
Typically on the following days symptoms further develop and a rash appears. It is usually pink or reddish usually coming on the stomach and chest. It will continue to spread to other areas of the body i.e. neck and ears. It is the most distinctive characteristic of scarlet fever and helps in its diagnosis and treatment.
The Red Rash
The reddish or pinkish rash of scarlet fever feels rough, like sandpaper, and may be itchy. If you have lighter skin tone, the colour appears to be pinkish. The rash is more difficult to see if you have a darker complexion. However, identifying the sandpaper skin texture together with an itchy rash helps the doctor to diagnose it.
Scarlet fever usually takes around 2 to 5 days to develop, but the time difference between exposure and appearance of the symptoms can take from 1 to 7 days. Today this disease has become rarer than in the past. However, there is a significant rise in the number of outbreaks recently that make authorities more vigilant on raising the awareness of this disease.
Causes of Scarlet Fever
Scarlet fever is caused by the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, sometimes called 'group A Strep'. As mentioned above this bacterium lives quite happily in the throat and on the skin without causing any problems. However, in some cases, the bacterium releases toxins which cause symptoms and the disease for some people. These toxins are highly contagious and easily spread via airborne particles and contact with contaminated objects.
What to Do
If you are exposed to someone who already has scarlet fever or is experiencing the typical symptoms, make sure to head to our clinic or book an appointment online. We can help you determine if you do have scarlet fever and guide you on the correct steps to take and treatment options.