Scarlet Fever In Adults - Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention

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Scarlet Fever In Adults - Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention
Scarlet Fever In Adults - Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention

Scarlet fever in adults

Scarlet fever in adults
Scarlet fever in adults

Most adults regard scarlet fever as a purely childhood disease. In fact, this is not the case. The likelihood of infection remains high even among those people who have long ceased to be children. Adults with weakened immune systems are more likely to become infected. In this case, the disease will have an erased character, it is manifested by inflammation in the throat, intoxication of the body, a skin rash, which passes very quickly.

Sometimes scarlet fever has a severe course. Most often this happens when treatment is not started on time. Therapy is delayed due to the fact that a person does not consult a doctor and does not know about his diagnosis in time.

The causative agent of scarlet fever is S. Pyogenes, a toxicogenic hemolytic streptococcus of group A. This microbe is dangerous with toxic damage to the heart, kidneys, joints and other internal organs. The rash, which always occurs with scarlet fever, is an allergic reaction of the body to the penetration of infection into it.


  • What is scarlet fever?
  • How is scarlet fever spread?
  • Symptoms of scarlet fever
  • Complications of scarlet fever in adults
  • Scarlet fever treatment
  • Is quarantine mandatory for scarlet fever? Prevention

What is scarlet fever?

Scarlet fever is an infectious disease that manifests itself as a state of general intoxication, inflammation of the tonsils and is accompanied by a rash and fever.

How is scarlet fever spread?

How scarlet fever is transmitted
How scarlet fever is transmitted

The transmission of scarlet fever is carried out by airborne droplets, or through household items. You can get infected even when you touch the patient's skin if there are injured areas on the body of a healthy person, for example, cuts and abrasions. There are several serovars of group A streptococcus, therefore, if an adult has not previously encountered them and has not developed immunity, he will certainly get sick.

Scarlet fever most often develops in people who live in temperate zones. The peak incidence occurs in spring and autumn. The microbe enters the mucous membranes of the nasopharynx, through microdamages on the skin. The main route of transmission of the disease is airborne. However, the contact-household variant of the spread of the infection should not be ruled out.

  • Scarlet fever is spread by talking, coughing and sneezing.
  • The disease can be transmitted through dirty hands, household items, dishes, toys.
  • Sometimes infection occurs through close contact with the infected person's skin.

Not only patients are contagious, but also carriers of infection. Moreover, carriers of scarlet fever are about 20% of people. They can release the microbe into the external environment throughout the year.

If a person falls ill with scarlet fever, then his body first met with streptococcus. The infection can happen again, then the rash on the body will not appear. The main symptom of scarlet fever will be angina. Antitoxic immunity is developed to any type of streptococcus, and microbial immunity only to a specific serovar of the bacteria. Therefore, you can become infected with sore throat again, but the rash will not appear.

Symptoms of scarlet fever

Children aged 4-8 years suffer from scarlet fever very often. The peak incidence occurs in the winter. Since most of the adult population of the country has weakened immunity by various factors, the likelihood of catching an infection from a child remains at a high level.

The incubation period for scarlet fever is 3 to 7 days. The disease manifests itself suddenly, the symptoms gain full strength within a few hours. In the next 4-5 days, they will increase. Recovery occurs only after 2-3 weeks. A person will be contagious in the first hours after the onset of the main symptoms of the disease. Sometimes it also happens that a person recovers and ceases to pose a danger to others, and sometimes, on the contrary, for a long time is a spread of the disease.

The main symptoms of scarlet fever:

  • High body temperature.
  • Headaches.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Increased sleepiness, increased fatigue.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Nausea and vomiting. These symptoms occur when scarlet fever is severe.
  • After the temperature rises, on the second day of illness, a rash appears on the skin. It is small, red, located on the face, on the neck, on the bends of the arms and legs, on the abdomen, on the chest and on the thighs. The rash itches, so many people perceive it as a manifestation of allergies or toxodermatosis.
Symptoms of scarlet fever
Symptoms of scarlet fever
  • The patient's cheeks become covered with red spots, the tongue becomes crimson, and the nasolabial triangle turns pale.

Symptoms of scarlet fever
Symptoms of scarlet fever
  • There is a simple way to distinguish the rash characteristic of scarlet fever. It is enough to press on it with your palm. This will lead to the fact that she disappears for a while, and then reappears.
  • The rash goes away quickly. Within a week, even traces of it will not remain on the skin. However, after 7-14 days, the skin on the palms and feet will begin to peel off, leaving in layers. On the body, the dermis leaves in small scales.
  • Sore throat, sore throat symptoms.
Symptoms of scarlet fever
Symptoms of scarlet fever

When performing a blood test, an increase in the level of eosinophils, neutrophilic leukocytes, ESR will be revealed. Hemoglobin may fall during this period. The disease responds well to treatment with antibiotics from the penicillin group. Taken together, all these signs make it possible to accurately diagnose.

Adults with mild illness can be treated at home. The doctor will prescribe an antibacterial drug for 10 days. Bed rest will be required during the week.

Hospitalization is required for patients with severe illness. In 52% of cases, people aged 16-20 are brought to the hospital with complications. 47% are persons aged 21-30 years. Only 1% of hospitalized patients are aged 31-40 years.

It is known that in 28% of cases, adults with scarlet fever are misdiagnosed.

The disease can be confused with pathologies such as:

  • Rubella - in 20% of cases.
  • Measles - in 19% of cases.
  • Infectious mononucleosis - in 14% of cases.
  • Pseudotuberculosis - in 13% of cases.
  • Angina - in 12% of cases.
  • Allergy to drugs or toxicoderma - in 9% of cases.
  • ARVI - in 5% of cases.
  • Foodborne infections - in 5% of cases.
  • Adenovirus infection - in 2% of cases.
  • Meningitis - in 1% of cases.

Despite the development of medicine, in some institutions there are still no rapid tests to determine scarlet fever. Therefore, doctors focus exclusively on the symptoms of the disease. This explains the misdiagnosis. Accordingly, the treatment will also be wrong.

Complications of scarlet fever in adults

Complications of scarlet fever
Complications of scarlet fever

If the infection had a mild course, then it will not be able to provoke any complications. Patients with severe scarlet fever are at risk for serious health consequences. They happen in 5.4% of cases.

These complications include:

  • Myocarditis and endocarditis
  • Kidney inflammation
  • Pneumonia
  • Inflammation of the joints
  • Otitis media and sinusitis

Children often tolerate scarlet fever easily, while in adult patients, the risk of developing severe complications is high.

Sometimes toxic-septic shock can develop:

  • The intoxication of the body is growing rapidly, the body temperature rises to high levels.
  • After 2 days, the patient manifests heart failure.
  • The skin is abundantly covered with hemorrhages (bruises), which will be concentrated in places where the rash accumulates.
  • The lymph nodes become inflamed.

  • A person's hands and feet become cold.
  • Body temperature drops, blood pressure drops.
  • The pulse slows down. Sometimes it is not possible to probe it.
  • There is no urination.
  • The end of toxic-septic shock is the death of the patient.

Scarlet fever treatment

Scarlet fever treatment
Scarlet fever treatment

If an adult feels well, then he can receive treatment at home. The doctor will prescribe penicillin antibiotics for up to 10 days. If the patient does not tolerate them, then it is possible to use drugs of the cephalosporin series or macrolides.

Bed rest will be required during the week. The throat should be treated with antiseptic compounds, including decoctions of herbs (chamomile, calendula, eucalyptus).

To relieve intoxication from the body and reduce the rash, anti-allergic drugs are used, for example, Zyrtec or Tsetrin.

After completing the course of taking antibiotics, you will need to take medications to restore the intestinal microflora, for example, Acipol, Hilak Forte or Rioflora Immuno.

Is quarantine mandatory for scarlet fever? Prevention


Quarantine is the main preventive measure to prevent the spread of the disease. A person is isolated from healthy people for up to 10 days. In the preschool educational institution, quarantine is 2-3 weeks.

People with a severe form of the disease are placed in the hospital. Those children who have been in contact with a sick child must be under medical supervision for 17 days. They do not attend preschool and primary classes. If they have already had scarlet fever before, then they can go to classes, but for 17 days they must be under the supervision of a medical worker. The apartment where the patient lives must be disinfected.

Measures to be taken in the family:

  • The patient should be placed in a separate room.
  • The patient must eat from a separate dish that is thoroughly disinfected.
  • The patient's belongings should be washed separately from those of healthy family members.
  • Toys must be disinfected.
  • An infected person should be cared for by one family member.
  • The patient should not contact other people.

Article author: Mochalov Pavel Alexandrovich | d. m. n. therapist

Education: Moscow Medical Institute. IM Sechenov, specialty - "General Medicine" in 1991, in 1993 "Occupational Diseases", in 1996 "Therapy".

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