There seems to be a lot of concern/anxiety on social media about the rise in scarlet fever cases. Newspapers are reporting a higher rise than normal in the number of cases reported(NHS website states they are unsure of the reason why). According to gov.co.uk scarlet fever is a notifiable disease, meaning health professionals must report each case (www.gov.uk/government/collections/scarlet-fever-guidance-and-data).
The first symptoms of scarlet fever are:
- a sore throat
- a fever
- a swollen tongue
- possibly a headache
- nausea + vomiting
- bumps on tongue may appear more pronounced (‘strawberry tongue’)
- area around mouth may look more pale
- aching body
12 – 48 hours after the onset of these symptoms a characteristic fine, sandpapery rash will appear. Often it starts on the chest or stomach, but can spread to other parts of the body (ears/neck). The rash may be itchy. On darker skin, the rash may not be that visible, but it should still feel characteristically ‘rough’ when touched.
Scarlet fever is a bacterial illness and could be triggered by a sore throat or skin infection (impetigo) which is linked to particular strains of streptococcus bacteria.
The first symptoms develop 2 – 5 days after infection, though the literature suggests that the patient may already be contagious before symptoms appear. The incubation period (the period between exposure to the infection and symptoms appearing) can be as short as one day, or take up to seven days.
It is most common amongst children between the ages of 2 – 8 years old, but can affect any age group. There is no evidence to suggest that this infection causes a risk to pregnant women or their baby, however any concerns should be discussed with your doctor/midwife.
Although scarlet fever is usually a mild infection, the NHS website recommends a 10 day course of antibiotics (liquid amoxicillin or penicillin for children), although recovery tends to start after 4-5 days. Children are said to be infectious for 24hrs after starting the antibiotics, and 1 – 2 weeks without antibiotic treatment. Doctors believe the antibiotics will help avoid complications such as ear infections, sinusitis, a throat abscess and possibly pneumonia.
Once you have had scarlet fever once, it is unlikely you will catch it again (though there are some exceptions).
Alongside any conventional treatment you may consider, homeopathic remedies will be of great support. Remedies are safe to use at any age, including babies, pregnant women and breastfeeding mums.
The following are a list of remedies you may find helpful. Of course, the support of your own homeopath is the best scenario, so that individualised prescriptions can be made, especially to boost the patient’s overall vitality, but this is not always available to everyone.
Potency-wise in acute prescribing, stick to 6c, 12c or 30c. Remedies can be bought from Neal’s Yard Remedies shops, some of your local pharmacies or Homeopathic pharmacies such as Helios and Ainsworths, which will take your orders over the phone and send remedies out to you. For younger children you can ask for granules, otherwise remedies come as sucrose pillules, lactose tablets or even as powders. Let the remedies dissolve on your tongue – for smaller children you can place some of the small granules inside the mouth. For more anxious patients, you can also dilute the remedy in a glass of water (just one pillule is enough), and let them take a sip at a time. Frequency in repetition is listed under each remedy, as a guide. Stop when symptoms improve.
Neal’s Yard Remedies