Getting scarlet fever during pregnancy is quite rightly feared among expectant mothers. However, the case of scarlet fever is different from other infectious diseases, such as rubella.
If the scarlet fever symptoms are recognized in time, the disease can be treated quickly and easily.
Unlike many other infectious diseases, scarlet fever during pregnancy has no risk of leaving permanent damage to the unborn baby if treatment is started in time.
This article shows how you can recognize scarlet fever in adults and which scarlet fever symptoms indicate this disease. Here you will also learn what treatments are available for scarlet fever in pregnancy and what effects you can expect.
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What Is Scarlet Fever?
Unlike other dangerous infectious diseases during pregnancy, scarlet fever is a bacterial infection with a streptococcus A strain. Therefore, like all other bacterial infectious diseases, it is generally well treatable with antibiotic administration.
Primarily, this disease is known as a children’s disease, like for example the dangerous chickenpox. However, it can also affect adults.
Even if you have already had scarlet fever in the past, this is no guarantee that you will be spared later in life.
The streptococcus A strain responsible for this disease has several families. You only acquire immunity for the strain with which you have already been infected once.
For the other strains, there remains a high risk of infection, so multiple scarlet fever infections are possible.
Scarlet Fever In Kindergarten – What To Do?
Because this disease is a bacterial infection, there is no vaccination against it. In fact, scarlet fever is a highly contagious disease that is usually spread as a droplet or smear infection.
During pregnancy, you should take care to completely avoid contact with infected people.
Unfortunately, this is not possible in all situations: Some patients do not yet know about their infection because it has not yet completely broken out. However, there is still a risk of infection for you.
Especially if you have larger siblings in the household who go to kindergarten or school, there is a possibility of getting the scarlet fever as a “souvenir” from the institution.
If you already know that a real “scarlet fever wave” is rampant in your kindergarten or school, you should try to stay away from the facility. Ask friends or family members to stand in for you and bring or pick up siblings.
Despite very good hygiene measures, such as careful hand washing, disinfecting, wearing gloves, an infection is then also for you during pregnancy very likely.
Finally, your immune system is more susceptible to infectious diseases during pregnancy. Your body is therefore even more susceptible to scarlet fever during pregnancy.
The typical time for scarlet fever infections is the cold season, especially the winter months between October and March.
You Should Watch Out For These Scarlet Fever Symptoms In Children
If this disease is currently rampant in your area, you should look out for the following scarlet fever symptoms in your children: It is a rapidly progressing infectious disease that has an incubation period of only a few days.
At the beginning of the disease, many sufferers initially experience the symptoms of pharyngitis or tonsillitis. As the disease progresses, high fever, swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, and vomiting occur. In addition, chills are also a scarlet fever symptom.
If the disease progresses untreated, the typical red skin rash appears all over the body. This usually starts in the groin and spreads over the entire skin.
Also among the typical scarlet fever symptoms is the so-called “raspberry tongue”, which is characterized by its deep red coloration and raspberry-like surface. The oral cavity is highly red in color, which includes tonsils, uvula and also the palate.
It is not uncommon for the tonsils of diseased individuals to develop yellowish plaques. Typically, sufferers not only show scarlet fever symptoms, but also appear pale and very weak.
What Is The Course Of Scarlet Fever In Adults?
If you have contact with sick people, you should observe yourself well in order to be able to quickly detect the outbreak of scarlet fever in you.
On the whole, the symptoms are similar in children and adults, but there are some small differences. In many adults, scarlet fever infection begins with sore throat and aching limbs.
Severe headaches may also be the first scarlet fever symptoms. If you initially suspect that you have a cold, you may already be surprised by the uncharacteristically high fever that soon sets in.
The onset of the disease is also accompanied by severe fatigue in adults – a symptom that can be felt even more intensely due to your pregnancy.
Once you have been infected, an incubation period of between two and five days can pass before the first symptoms appear. The characteristic raspberry tongue also occurs in adults.
However, several days pass after the outbreak until it becomes recognizable. At the latest then you should immediately visit the doctor, so that the antibiotic treatment for scarlet fever in pregnancy can begin as soon as possible.
Possible Late Effects Of Scarlet Fever In Pregnancy
Even after successful treatment of the infection, late effects may occur, especially in adults. These include, above all, rheumatic fever, which occurs about one and a half months after overcoming scarlet fever.
This is a systemic inflammation that leads to restrictions in mobility and can also trigger inflammation of the heart.
Affected persons contract the infection again during the weakened phase and develop a particularly severe course that requires several years of antibiotic therapy.
Other secondary diseases of an untreated scarlet fever infection can still affect you during pregnancy. This includes, for example, inflammation of the middle ear, which can lead to impaired hearing in the further course of the pregnancy.
Without question, scarlet fever infection has the potential to endanger your heart or lead to kidney problems.
How To Recognize Scarlet Fever In Pregnancy
Scarlet fever symptoms in pregnancy are identical to those shown by non-pregnant adults. If you suspect that you have been infected, you should go to the doctor immediately.
There, a rapid test is performed for diagnosis, in which the mucous membrane of the throat is swabbed with a cotton swab. The rapid test provides information about the presence of the infection-causing streptococci within a few minutes.
If the test is still negative, a more detailed laboratory test must be performed if there is sufficient suspicion to confirm the diagnosis.
Is Scarlet Fever Dangerous In Pregnancy?
The scarlet fever pathogen itself is generally harmless to the unborn child during pregnancy. The bacterium that triggers the disease does not pass into the amniotic fluid, nor can the baby itself contract the infection.
Here, the placental barrier ensures that the bacterium cannot penetrate to the unborn child.
Unlike measles or rubella, for example, scarlet fever cannot cause direct damage to the unborn child during pregnancy. What is very possible, however, are pregnancy complications resulting from the mother’s weakened body.
An infection with high fever means a great strain on the organism, which in turn makes it easier for other germs to spread. Inflammations of the heart and kidneys are among the most common complications that occur with scarlet fever during pregnancy.
These are therefore also dangerous for the unborn child because the organs are largely responsible for the supply of the baby. Severe courses of scarlet fever due to incorrect treatment can therefore indirectly cause growth impairments in the unborn child.
Of course, the high fever itself is also an additional strain on your body.
If you have scarlet fever during pregnancy or another infectious disease, such as influenza, and your fever rises above 39 degrees, you should seek treatment immediately to be on the safe side.
But your own health can also be permanently damaged by these sequelae of scarlet fever in pregnancy.
However, this can be avoided by seeking treatment as soon as possible after the first symptoms appear and following the doctor’s instructions for the indicated antibiotic therapy.
Does Scarlet Rash Also Occur With Scarlet Fever During Pregnancy?
The typical scarlet rash is among the surest signs of infection. However, it only occurs when the infection has already fully broken out.
Several days can pass between the onset of the disease and the appearance of the typical rash. It also typically begins in the groin and armpits in scarlet fever during pregnancy.
After several days of illness, it eventually covers the chest and abdomen, then the entire body. However, the palms of the hands and soles of the feet are not affected. The rash is about the size of a pinhead, and the affected skin feels scaly and rough.
It does not cause itching, but the skin scales noticeably after the infection subsides.
Because the rash only appears in the further course of the scarlet fever infection, you should see a doctor at the first signs of suspicion, especially during pregnancy.
In this way, you can ensure that scarlet fever symptoms are treated professionally as soon as possible.
These Treatments Are Available For Scarlet Fever During Pregnancy
As already mentioned, this disease is not a viral infection, but a bacterial infectious disease.
So, like all bacterial infections, scarlet fever can be treated quickly and easily with antibiotics.
Even though you should naturally avoid medication during pregnancy, scarlet fever is still one of those cases in which medication is absolutely indicated.
Usually, a scarlet fever infection during pregnancy is treated with penicillin. This antibiotic can also be used for scarlet fever during pregnancy and is safe for both your baby and yourself.
The antibiotic therapy should be started as soon as possible to keep the physical stress for your baby and yourself as low as possible.
Usually, the effect of the penicillin sets in after only a few days, so that the symptoms of scarlet fever disappear completely. In order not to endanger the success of the treatment, you should nevertheless continue to take the medication in order to eliminate all bacteria.
The usual duration of therapy is ten days. During this time, you should get plenty of rest and, if possible, stay in bed until the worst symptoms have subsided.
Some general behavioral guidelines also apply during antibiotic therapy. To keep the stress on your baby and yourself as low as possible, you should make sure to drink plenty of fluids.
If your scarlet fever symptoms are limited to severe sore throat, you can make your baby feel more comfortable by applying warm throat compresses.
If possible, you should also make sure that you continue to eat enough food. Soft or liquid food is ideal for throat and swallowing problems.