Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Scarlet Fever

Frequently Asked Questions About Scarlet Fever

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  • Scarlet fever is a highly contagious disease caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria, also known as Streptococcus pyogenes — the same bacteria that cause impetigo and strep throat
  • Scarlet fever is characterized by red-colored rashes, which typically start on the chest and/or abdomen before slowly spreading to other parts of the body
  • To strengthen your body’s defenses against bacterial infections like scarlet fever, you should improve your immune health by adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet

Q: What causes scarlet fever?

A: Scarlet fever is a highly contagious disease caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria, also known as Streptococcus pyogenes — the same bacteria that cause impetigo and strep throat. Some strains of these bacteria can produce an erythrogenic exotoxin, which may trigger the characteristic red rashes of scarlet fever in some people.1

Q: How do you get scarlet fever?

A: The bacteria that cause scarlet fever can be easily passed from one person to another through close physical contact. You can also contract the infection by using contaminated utensils and personal belongings.

Not everyone who's infected with group A strep gets scarlet fever, though. Only those who are sensitive to the exotoxin produced by the bacteria will develop the hallmark symptoms of this disease. Your age, surroundings and current health condition may also play a role in your susceptibility to scarlet fever.2

Q: What does scarlet fever look like?

A: Scarlet fever is characterized by red-colored rashes, which typically start on the chest and/or abdomen before slowly spreading onto other parts of the body.3 The rashes usually don't affect the face, but the cheeks of an infected person may still appear very red. The armpits, knees, groin and elbows may also turn a brighter red than the surrounding rashes.

The appearance of scarlet fever rashes is akin to sunburn, and their texture is like that of sandpaper. When glass is pressed over the affected skin, the rashes may turn white.4

Q: How long does scarlet fever last?

A: A scarlet fever outbreak typically lasts for a week.5 Fever and sore throat are some of the early warning signs that you may encounter after one to four days of being infected with the Streptococcus bacteria.

The rashes may appear after 12 to 48 hours of developing the initial symptoms and will resolve after two to seven days, or about a week.6,7 Once the rashes disappear, the affected areas of the body may start to peel. The peeling is usually more prominent around the fingertips, toes and groin, and may last up to six weeks.8

Make sure to avoid any close physical contact with uninfected people even after your symptoms have subsided, since scarlet fever may still be infectious two to three weeks after the rashes have healed.9

Q: Can adults get scarlet fever?

A: Even though scarlet fever commonly affects children between 5 to 15 years old, adults are still at risk of developing this illness, especially if they're highly exposed to infected individuals.10

Q: Can you prevent scarlet fever?

A: While scarlet fever is highly contagious, there are several strategies you can employ to avoid becoming infected with Streptococcal bacteria and scarlet fever. One of the most effective ways to avoid this illness is by simply washing your hands frequently with warm, running water and mild soap.

As much as possible, avoid close physical contact with infected individuals. You should also refrain from sharing utensils and personal items with other people, even if they do not show signs of Streptococcal infection.11,12

To strengthen your body's defenses against bacterial infections like scarlet fever, you should improve your immune and gut health by adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet composed of whole, real foods, getting adequate amounts of sleep, and increasing your vitamin D levels through sun exposure.

MORE ABOUT SCARLET FEVER

Scarlet Fever: Introduction

What Is Scarlet Fever?

Scarlet Fever Symptoms

Scarlet Fever Causes

Scarlet Fever Treatment

Scarlet Fever Prevention

Scarlet Fever Diet

Scarlet Fever FAQ


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