Scarlet fever is an infectious disease that must be treated properly to avoid complications that could be serious. It is rare that it occurs in babies, but it is still important to be vigilant.Scarlet fever in babies occurs very rarely. This disease affects, in particular, children between 2 and 8 years of age, since during the first years of life the antibodies that the mother transmits through the placenta are still present.

Scarlet fever seemed like a disease eradicated some time ago, but in recent years it has seen a rebound in various parts of the world. However, it is currently a treatable condition and no longer has the severity that it exhibited in the past.

Scarlet fever in babies: what you need to know

Scarlet fever is a contagious disease caused by group A streptococci and is spread by close contact with infected people. Its main feature is a scarlet-red skin rash or rash; hence its name.

It is a benign condition and occurs more frequently in children with an average age of 4 years; however, it can also occur in babies. It is predominantly seasonal, so it is more common in late winter and spring.

The most common is that the symptoms subside six days after the onset of the disease. However, it may take longer for the rash to go away. It is important that the doctor is the one who gives the indications for your treatment.

What are the causes of scarlet fever?

Scarlet fever is contracted after coming into contact with group A hemolytic streptococcus, which belongs to the same family as the virus that causes tonsillitis; it has an incubation period of two to five days. Infection occurs through contact with droplets of respiratory secretions from an infected person.

It should be noted that some people carry strep but do not have symptoms. However, they can transmit the disease. Likewise, it can be spread by contact with surfaces that contain traces of secretions from someone who has scarlet fever.

Cases have been reported in which the disease is transmitted when the microbe infects a wound; however, this is very rare. The same person can have several episodes of scarlet fever throughout life, since there are several types of toxin that produce the skin rash.

Identification of the disease

As noted above, the most obvious symptom of scarlet fever is a deep red rash, which looks like a set of scarlet dots to the eye. Usually they appear first in the mouth and then spread to the chin, neck and chest, and then spread throughout the body. Scarlet fever manifests itself in two stages. The initial or prodrome phase is characterized by the following manifestations:

  • Swollen tonsils and glands in the neck.
  • High fever, up to 40 ºC, especially at the beginning of the disease and which generally lasts for three to five days.
  • Sore throat and headache.
  • General tiredness
  • Abdominal pain and vomiting(only occasionally).

In the second phase, called a rash or exanthema, the main symptom is a skin rash. This appears within 12 to 48 hours after the fever starts. At first it looks like a sunburn and can be itchy.

Small bumps form and the skin feels rough to the touch. Most often it affects the skin folds, such as the armpits, behind the knees and the crease of the elbow. Red lines form there. The rash disappears in the next six days, but the peeling of the skin can last for several weeks.

How to treat scarlet fever in babies

The diagnosis of scarlet fever in babies should be made by the pediatrician, through a clinical interview and physical examination. Usually this is enough; however, if in doubt, a rapid Strep A test may be ordered.

If the diagnosis is confirmed, antibiotics will be ordered. It is possible that with these medications the symptoms diminish in the next two days, but it is very important that the drugs are taken in the dose indicated by the doctor. Typically, ingestion lasts between 7 and 10 days.

Give your child plenty of fluids and a soft diet. It is also convenient to monitor the temperature so that it does not rise excessively. The baby must be isolated from other children, as long as the fever remains.

If the disease is not treated well, it can cause complications such as rheumatic fever, post-streptococcal flomerulonephritis, ear and sinus infection, or even pneumonia. Therefore, when suspected, it is essential to see a doctor as soon as possible. 


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