Dr Suresh is a GP and skin cancer doctor in Brisbane, and patients can book with him at this link

Another day another illness it seems. I’m sure almost every parent out there has been through this, but one of my daughter’s seems to have had an unlucky run of it lately. Yes unfortunately, despite popular belief amongst some of my patients, doctor’s kids also get sick. Alas we don’t have any magic to stop them getting unwell, but as doctors we may be a bit more aware of the signs and symptoms to watch out for that may indicate a more serious problem.

As a GP the question that I probably get asked the most is some variation of “how do I know if I need to worry?” It’s a great question. Usually followed with an answer from me about the symptoms of worsening illness, or some of the other less likely but serious illnesses that the patient (or child) could be suffering with, the so called ‘Red Flags’. Usually these are things like a non-blanching rash and how to do a ‘glass test’, or their child becomming flat and lethargic, or worsening signs of difficulty in breathing. I usually follow these up with patient information leaflets, as evidence shows that this can increase the education level and retention rate over purely verbal information.

Ok so what does this have to do with scarlet fever or your kid getting sick?

Well unfortunately my daughter most likely has Scarlet Fever. More accurately – Scarletina – which is a milder form of the illness. She’s under the weather, and a bit fragile, but she’s fine otherwise. But she’s also now on antibiotics. Thankfully as a GP I was able to recognise the symptoms and signs this morning, took her to our doctor who agreed and started her on the medicine.

So this got me thinking. I’m fortunate, and my kids are fortunate that whilst we can’t stop them getting unwell, we can recognise symptoms early and get them the help they need, but most of the public may not know the signs and symptoms of Scarlet Fever, so hence the point of this post – to educate.

Please follow this link here to learn more, but briefly Scarlet Fever is a condition usually caused by Strep A bacteria. It is usually fairly mild, with low risk of complications, but treatment is usually recommended anyway.

Some of the symptoms are:
– High temperature
– Sore throat
– Red tongue (so called Strawberry tongue) which may become swollen
– A rash with usually feels like fine sandpaper, often on their cheeks, abdomen and their chest.

Now of course a lot of illness may have symptoms like those above, and a rash doesn’t automatically mean it’s concerning. It could be a viral illness, so please do go see your GP who can make an accurate diagnosis and give you the advice and help you might need.

So my GP thinks it is Scarlet Fever – what is the treatment?

Most of the treatment is supportive. In other words, to make the child feel better and to prevent them getting dehydrated or more unwell. Regular paracetamol and/or ibuprofen (assuming no allergies), rest and plenty of fluids. However antibiotics are usually recommended to reduce the risk of complications like Rheumatic Fever or kidney damage. The usual antibiotics is Penicillin and usually for 10 days, but please check with your doctor as this may vary in your country. If your child is allergic to Penicillin they should take a different antibiotic.

Thankfully complications are rare and children usually make a full and swift recovery.

Unfortunately though Scarlet Fever is contagious, and usually it is recommended to quarantine for 24 hours after starting antibiotics, so sorry parents it may mean a day off as they won’t be able to attend their day care / school, so embrace it if you can. If your little one will allow, rest up yourself. Have a lazy day. Stick on the TV, fire up that streaming service, and just veg while you and your kid get some much needed R&R.

Dr Suresh is a GP and skin cancer doctor in Brisbane, and patients can book with him at this link


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