Scarlet fever is an infection of Streptococcus A bacteria and accompanies “strep throat”. Its incidence has reduced drastically over the last 100 years due to the use of antibiotics to combat the infection. However, some countries have recently experienced a resurgence. (1) It’s not yet understood why this is the case.(2)
Even so, worldwide, scarlet fever is a relatively rare condition, affecting less than 10% of those with strep throat. (3)
Scarlet Fever Symptoms
Scarlet fever can occur when the bacteria secrete a particular toxin to which the affected person is sensitive. It occurs mostly in children aged 5-15 and manifests with specific symptoms.
They include (4):
- Fever over 101°F
- Red rash (hence the term “scarlet fever”) developing on the face, chest, abdomen, and back and spreading to other parts of the body. Skin looks like it’s sunburned and is rough and scratchy. However, the skin around the mouth retains normal coloration. Skin will start to peel about a week after the rash appears.
- A sore throat with white and yellow patches
- Swollen tonsils and/or other glands
- White tongue with red spots (“strawberry tongue”)
- Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain
- Headaches, chills
Scarlet fever can be dangerous if left untreated, as the infection can cause long-term health effects such as (5):
- Rheumatic fever (an inflammatory disease that can affect the heart, joints, skin, and brain)
- Kidney disease (inflammation of the kidneys, called post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis)
- Otitis media (ear infection)
- Skin infections
- Abscesses (pockets of pus) of the throat
- Pneumonia (lung infection)
- Arthritis (joint inflammation)
Preventing Scarlet Fever
Scarlet fever is a highly contagious infection. Exposure to anything that the infected person has touched, coughed or sneezed on puts you at risk for contracting the infection.
Common sense efforts to reduce the risk apply:
- Hand washing with soap and water, especially after blowing the nose and before eating.
- Keep contaminated implements like toothbrushes, cups, and toys quarantined from the rest of the family.
- No skin-to-skin contact with someone who has scarlet fever or strep throat.
What Should I do if my Child has Scarlet Fever?
Treatment with antibiotics is the standard course of action for scarlet fever. In fact, it’s the first thing your family doctor will recommend. This is one of those cases for which antibiotics are indicated, as scarlet fever can pose long-term risks. Alternatively, there are natural antibiotic remedies that have been shown effective against strep throat.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Cayenne pepper
- Vitamin C
- Essential Oils
Click here for more.
Home Remedies for Scarlet Fever
Here are some home remedies to try for your little (or not-so-little) one to ease the symptoms of scarlet fever and promote rapid healing.
Always at the top of the list to combat illness, adequate hydration plus some extra will help the body’s natural ability to rid itself of harmful bacteria.
Add the following to water (hot or cold) to ease a sore throat:
- Honey: soothing, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and sweet
- Raspberry leaves: contain astringent tannins that soothe, vitamins and minerals, fruity (6)
- Mint leaves: support the immune system, antibacterial, analgesic, anesthetic, and cooling (7)
- Lemon: mild acid to kill bacteria, loads of vitamin C for the immune system
2. Salt Gargle
If your child is old enough to gargle, salt water is a great vehicle for fast relief from a sore throat. Kids really like making the sound, too! You can find recipes for antiseptic and soothing gargles and throat spray here.
3. Use a Humidifier
Moist air is easier on the throat and nose; it can also ease congestion, relieve coughing, and ease skin itch. Plus, it hydrates sinus and lung tissue. Using a diffuser to add healing essential oils into the air will bring lasting relief since using essential oils in a humidifier isn’t recommended.
Some oils to try include lavender, lemon, eucalyptus, mint, myrrh, rosemary, and sage. (8)
4. Essential Oils for Skin
Essential oils provide soothing anti-inflammatories and antibacterials to relieve the itch of scarlet fever rash. If applying topically, always mix essential oils with a carrier oil (jojoba, sesame, olive, coconut, avocado, etc.). Here’s the recommended ratio: 4-5 drops of essential oil to one teaspoon of carrier oil. Always test the mixture in a small spot for 24 hours for sensitivity before widespread use. Lavender, patchouli, geranium, tea tree, rosemary, and peppermint are suggested to treat a rash.
5. Keep Fingernails Short
It’s simple: long or chipped fingernails can further irritate skin when it is inevitably scratched. Excessive scratching can lead to open sores and possible infection.
6. Soups and Soft Foods
Keeping up nutrition for scarlet fever is essential for quickly getting rid of the infection. Bone broth and chicken soup are full of vitamins and minerals that nourish and support the immune system. They’re also comforting, warm and soothing. Vegetable soups deliver soft bits of nutrition that don’t hurt to eat.
Vegetable soups deliver plenty of easy-to-digest nutrition. Garlic is a potent antibiotic—more effective than pharmaceuticals—and our garlic soup recipe is loaded with it. Alternatively, oatmeal is a good option for breakfast (and is a soothing bath for the skin).
7. Throat Drops
If your child is old enough for throat and cough drops, they’re an effective way of delivering medicine where it’s needed to calm pain, ease cough and congestion, and kill bacteria. You’ll find recipes for homemade drops here that contain only natural, healthful ingredients.
8. Limit Irritant Exposure
Laundry detergent, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, personal care products (e.g., shampoo, soap, lotion), household cleaners, and cigarette smoke can further irritate sensitive skin and mucous membranes. That’s why it’s important to use natural products instead of harsh chemicals. The negative effects of second-hand smoke on your child (even more so when s/he’s ill) is yet another reason to quit smoking cigarettes.
Most children will recover from these scarlet fever symptoms with adequate rest, nutrition, and antibiotic treatment in 7-10 days. If on an antibiotic regimen, don’t allow your child to come into contact with others until 24 hours after treatment starts, when the infection is no longer contagious.