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Understanding Scarlet Fever

Understanding Scarlet Fever -- Treatment

How Do I Know If My Child Has Scarlet Fever?

To determine if your child has scarlet fever, your pediatrician will examine your child, looking for the characteristic rash and characteristic changes on the tongue called "strawberry tongue." The doctor will swab the throat and send the swab to a lab to examine it for the presence of streptococcal bacteria. A rapid test may also be available.

What Are the Treatments for Scarlet Fever?

Unless treated with antibiotics, scarlet fever can have serious complications. Call your pediatrician immediately if you think your child has the disease. Along with taking antibiotics, your child should get plenty of bed rest and drink lots of fluids. Cool baths may reduce the fever, and a humidifier may help relieve the sore throat.

CAUTION. Never give aspirin to anyone under the age of 20 years who has an infection. It can cause Reye's syndrome, a rare but possibly deadly disease of the liver.

Your pediatrician will prescribe an antibiotic, such as amoxicillin. If your child is allergic to penicillin, he or she will be given an alternative, such as azithromycin. The medicine must be taken for its entire course, even if the symptoms disappear sooner. Kids should not go back to school or day care for 24 hours after starting the antibiotic. Other family members should also be examined and treated, if necessary. Before the advent of antibiotics, households were quarantined because of scarlet fever, but this is no longer necessary.

How Can I Prevent Scarlet Fever?

To prevent scarlet fever, avoid people who have a strep infection. Wash your hands often and avoid sharing eating utensils or drinks.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 11, 2015
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