Scarlet fever is a highly contagious systemic infection occurring predominantly in children, caused by beta-hemolytic streptococci, St. Pyogenes which produces a pyogenic exotoxin. It is similar in many respects to acute tonsillitis and pharyngitis caused by streptococci. Though it occurs in all populations of the world, it is less frequent today. Scarlet fever is most common in children 5 to 15 years of age. Although Scarlet fever was once considered a serious childhood illness but antibiotic treatments have made it less threatening. Still, if left untreated, scarlet fever can result in more serious conditions that affect the heart, kidneys and other parts of the body
Scarlet Fever Symptoms
Scarlet fever is common in children. The symptoms are
- After the entry of the microorganisms into the body, which is believed to occur usually through the pharynx, there is an incubation period of three to five days, after which the patient exhibits severe pharyngitis and tonsillitis, headache, chills, fever and vomiting
- Enlargement and tenderness of the regional cervical lymph nodes
- The characteristic feature is, diffuse, bright scarlet skin rash appears on the second or third day of the illness. This rash which is particularly prominent in the areas of the skin folds, is a result of the toxic injury to the vascular endothelium which produces dilation of the small blood vessels and consequent hyperemia.
- The rash typically begins first on the upper trunk, spreading to involve extremities but sparing the palms and soles.
- Small papules of normal color erupt through these rashes giving a characteristic ‘sand paper’ feel to the skin.
- The rash subsides after six or seven days followed by the desquamation of palms and soles. The color of the rash varies from scarlet to dusky red
Scarlet Fever Oral Manifestations
The chief oral manifestations of scarlet fever have been referred to as stomatitis scarlatina. The mucosa particularly of the palate, may appear congested and may have petechiae scattered on the soft palate.
- The tongue exhibits a white coating, and the fungiform papillae are edematous and hyperemic, projecting above the surface as small red knobs. This phenomenon has been described clinically as a ‘straw berry tongue’ or ‘white strawberry tongue
- The coating of the tongue soon lost; beginning at the tip and lateral margins, and this organ becomes red, glistening and smooth except for the swollen, hyperemic papillae. The tongue in this phase has been termed the ‘raspberry tongue’ or ‘red strawberry tongue’
- In severe cases, ulceration of the buccal mucosa and palate may appear due to secondary infection
Scarlet Fever Treatment?
The administration of antibiotics will help to treat and also help in controlling possible complications. Local application of topical ointment also can be used to relieve discomfort