Ask the Doctor: Scarlet Fever!

I’d like to call myself a ‘Scarlet Fever expert’ now after both my children have had it in the last 3 months! It is becoming a more and more common illness striking Europe (again!)

Scarlet fever… yes the same illness which killed so many in the Victorian Era throughout USA and Europe… In worst cases the disease would plague all children in one family at once and they would be killed within one to two weeks! Can you imagine losing ALL your children? It is believed that the famous Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing possibly from…Scarlet Fever.

Thank goodness for the invention of medicine because it is the only thing that can cure this horrible illness. ALL cases of Scarlet Fever need to be treated, even when the fever goes away. If left untreated it can lead to kidney damage, heart failure and even death! I met a doctor at a hospital here in Vienna who told me how a boy he treated needed a heart transplant! Imagine in 2018! So please, please seek the appropriate treatment as soon as you think your child may be sick! Don’t be shy to get help! The worst thing you find out is that your child does not have SF!  All the doctor needs to do is a throat swab to confirm Scarlet Fever!

I would have to say that this is the first time I have seen my children SO sick (besides Ruby’s near death experience with Rotavirus back in 2011). Both helpless, laying on the couch whimpering because it hurts/takes too much energy to cry. Sleeping 24/7, no energy, unable to eat or drink. It is frightening!

I will talk about Nate’s recent bout of SF since it is still fresh in my mind (he just had it last week). So to begin with, he started a fever and complained of generally not feeling well. I gave him medicine to treat his fever and the following morning he woke up in worse shape. I had to carry him everywhere he had ZERO energy. Eventually he let me look in his throat and I could see his tongue was very white (white coating) and his throat was very red. I took him to the local hospital (we were on holiday in UAE). The so called doctor there told me Nate was just suffering from a “common cold”. I asked her about his tongue as it reminded me of how Ruby’s looked when she first was sick with SF a few months prior. She said NO he does not have a ‘strawberry tongue’…Well did she know that the strawberry tongue does not appear until the white coating comes off…ANYWAY! I then asked her about the rash I just saw springing up between his groin and chest. She said it was from his fever. She was very stern with me and practically told me off that she is the doctor and knows what she is talking about it. Well jokes on her!

The following day Nate’s fever continued to peek up to 40C and sometimes break and go back down to 38.5C but it was really hard to control. The rash was becoming more prominent. The worst was between his grown area. RED, RED, RED and very spotty all between his legs and private parts. The first thing I noticed in the morning when he woke up was how his hands and feet were peeling. I said THAT’S IT MY SON HAS SCARLET FEVER! He became MORE and MORE weak. His fluid intake was not great and food, well forget food. And I understand why. His throat was SO infected. He cried when he had to swallow. I felt like Nate was a baby again; in my arms all day long and relying on my constant care, affection and attention. Poor kid. I brought him straight in to My Pedia Clinic for a second opinion.

Dr Medhat had one look at him (prior to his nurses checking all the important stats of weight, height, ears, fever etc) and said it’s Scarlet Fever! He had one look in his mouth and then instructed his nurse to hand him his magnifying glass to have a good, close up look of his rash. He then swabbed his throat and medication was on it’s way! Antibiotics. The ONLY thing that can make your child better. I know a lot of parents hate giving their kids antibiotics (I do) but when it’s life or death, or long term side affects you give the meds to your child! Don’t mess around with SF.

Within 24 hours Nate was starting to spring back to his old self!

Dr Medhat informed me that it was better to give him WARM things like soup vs. COLD like popsicles or ice cream. I would have never known! AND I will never trust another doctor’s opinion in Dubai than Dr Medhat from My Pedia Clinic! Imagine if I listened to that doctor from emergency and left him untreated? What would have happened to him?

From my experience, 48 hours after starting treatment with medication your child is safe to return back to school or be in contact with other children (of course this depends on their energy level and how they are recovering).

Here are some photos (I know they are not pleasant to look at) but I wanted to show you the stages of this nasty sickness which is caused by a bacteria (the bacteria is Streptococcus Group A).

DAY 2 after the first onset of high fever. Here you can see the ‘white’ tongue and red tonsils:


DAY 3. Tongue is more ‘white’ and almost swollen looking. Throat still very red and sore. Feet and hands have started peeling:


DAY 4. Strawberry tongue emerges and rash is all over body.


“Children with scarlet fever develop chills, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting; these symptoms may occur at the same time as or shortly following the onset of pharyngitis. When the rash emerges, it typically seems like an itchy sunburn with tiny bumps. After first becoming visible on the neck and face, it spreads to the chest and back, later spreading to the arms and the remainder of the body. Though initially consisting of separate bumps, these bumps tend to merge together, giving the entire torso a red appearance. Generally, the rash beings to fade by about the sixth day; and similarly to sunburn, the skin may peel afterwards. The tongue, typically very red and bumpy (“strawberry tongue”) may also peel.”

I hope this post may help another parent in need looking for information on Scarlet Fever. It is NOT an illness to mess around with or take lightly and I hate to say it…but it is on the rise. More cases popping up all over the world!


2 Comments on Ask the Doctor: Scarlet Fever!

  1. sajeev
    May 17, 2018 at 11:33 am (3 years ago)

    A very informative post and useful for all parents!

  2. Abdul Haseeb
    July 29, 2019 at 8:37 am (1 year ago)

    Good information to share with all parents.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *