Scarlet fever or scarlatina is a type of infection that is caused by the bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes. This disease usually occurs after experiencing strep throat that is not managed with antibiotics. However, there are also incidences wherein scarlet fever occurs without experiencing throat infections. This makes it a little hard for us to manage and intervene. This is also considered as a presenting sign of strep throat along with throat soreness and fever. Many cases of scarlet fever affect children mostly (scarlatina was, in fact, considered a common childhood illness), but can adults get scarlet fever as well?
Can adults get scarlet fever?
Although this disease is more common among younger individuals or in children, scarlet fever is still likely to happen in adults. This, however, is already considered rare. Scarlet fever is also a contagious disease. This means that it can be passed from one person to another through different modes of transport. As for scarlet fever, sneezing and coughing can easily transmit the disease since the bacteria can stay or infect our respiratory droplets. Fortunately, scarlet fever is already a rare disease these days due to the widespread availability of antibiotic medications against the strep bacteria.
What are the symptoms of scarlet fever?
Scarlet fever usually appears with rash and fever. This however can be managed with antibiotics. Some children and adults can even recover scarlet fever even without the use of antibiotics. Nevertheless, immediate treatment is still very important in order to prevent the fast spread of infection in the blood known as sepsis. Immediate management is also needed in order to prevent further complications such as rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. However, with fast intervention, the prognosis of this disease is said to be excellent. Some of the most common symptoms include those of strep throat; however, this does not occur all the time.
Aside from these, patients suffering from scarlet fever may also experience soreness of the throat and painful swallowing. Symptoms of flu or regular flu such as runny nose or rhinorhea, sneezing and coughing can also be exhibited. The throat may also appear bright red in color and may also show red spots on the back of the throat. Bright red spots may also appear at the back of the throat or at the palate, which is why these spots are commonly referred to as palatal petechiae. The appearance of white exudates can also be spotted on the tonsils. Adults may also experience headache as another separate symptom of strep throat that is unrelated to fever.
How can we prevent the spread of this disease?
In order for us to contain the spread of strep throat, it is a key for us to do proper hand washing. This simple act can actually prevent countless serious diseases from infecting our systems. As we already know, scarlet fever can be transmitted through droplets. Once these come in contact with our hands, we can easily transfer it to our own respiratory system, thus begins another case of infection.
How can we treat scarlet fever?
Doctors usually prescribe a 10-day course of antibiotics such as penicillin or amoxicillin to treat scarlet fever. Because some the symptoms above can be caused by viruses (which are not treatable with antibiotics) it is important to make sure that the cause of your symptoms is actually bacterial before taking antibiotics.
Her are some simple self care measures to alleviate the symptoms of scarlet fever, such as:
- Take paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen for a headache and to bring down a high temperature;
- Use calamine lotion, cortizone creme or antihistamine tablets to relieve itching.
- Drink plenty of cool fluids to soothe a painful throat and remain hydrated;
- Gargling with salt water or antiseptic mouthwash to disinfect and soothe a painful throat;
- Eat soft foods so as not to irritate a painful throat.
These are just some of the important facts about scarlet fever that all of us, including the adults, must be aware of.