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Strep/Scarlet fever - Antibiotics? - Page 2

post #21 of 44
Please give the antibiotics. I understand the reluctance. We've heard so much in recent years about overuse of antibiotics, and about how they're sometimes prescribed needlessly. This is not one of those cases. Scarlet fever routinely killed children, before we discovered penicillin. There's also the risk of rheumatic fever, and the risk of strep infections elsewhere in the body. Toxic shock syndrome is also always a concern, with strep.

You may have been thinking of me when you mentioned people who have decided not to treat strep. I did a lot of research on this, a few years ago, and posted about it, when I had a strep throat. I was in the middle of a nasty flare of ulcerative colitis, and my GI doc and I were trying to decide whether the risk of the antibiotics, for somebody like me with a seriously diseased gut, outweighed the risk of forgoing them. What we found out was that in adults over 18, it is SOMETIMES advisable to forgo treating strep, IF conditions exist that make the antibiotics a clear and present health risk. In those cases, the risk of complications from the strep is a hair less than the risk of the antibiotics, and so delaying antibiotics is sometimes a reasonable choice, when made with medical supervision and a close eye on the progress of the illness. So I went untreated, knowing it was a calculated risk. I am an adult, and I could take that risk with my own health, knowing that the doc I trusted had my back, and would let me know if he thought it was time to go for the abx.

Even the most alternative opinions I could find strongly recommended that CHILDREN with strep infections be treated with antibiotics, every time.
Edited by Llyra - 4/5/11 at 7:52am
post #22 of 44

Many people believe scarlet fever is what caused Helen Keller's blindness and deafness. 


I had strep throat as a college student and ignored it thinking it was just a virus. Like Mosaic it took two rounds of antibiotics to finally kick it. I also had PSGN (my kidneys were unable to properly work) as a result of the infection so was simply miserable for months. And who knows what having that may eventually mean for my kidney function.


How can you deny your daughter antibiotics??

post #23 of 44
I am also conservative with abx use, but would absolutely have already started them in your dd's condition. The pain and suffering alone would be reason enough to go straight to the abx, but the real risk of dangerous complications far outweighs any possible risk of eczema, etc. I have eczema (despite not taking abx in at least a decade) and I'd rather be covered in it than have strep throat or scarlet fever.

You can usually give whatever alternative treatments at the same time as the abx. No need to forgo one in favor of using the other exclusively.
post #24 of 44


Originally Posted by joybird View Post

Wow.  I feel like I took a wrong turn and ended up at the Parenting Magazine forums...???


I never said I wasn't going to treat her, or that I was going to 'deny her medical treatment'.  I understand what strep is and the possible (and very rare complications) that it involves.  Otherwise I wouldn't be here asking for help with alternatives, I would just forego the antibiotics like I have done every other time.  Of course she will get medical treatment.  I am investigating what that treatment will entail.


Why would I consider alternative treatments?  Because I love my kids and want to do what's best for them.  And I have learned the hard way that it is always necessary (for me) to question what allopathic medicine touts as law.  


Scarlet fever is strep with a rash.  The rash came before anything else actually.  She is atopic and was reacting to the toxins produced by strep.  SF is not an advanced case of strep, its a different way of reacting to it from what I can tell, or perhaps it is a slightly different strain of the bacteria.  Her infection does seem quite serious, however.  The swelling on her neck seems to be out of the ordinary for regular old strep throat like I had as a kid.  I will probably give her the abx, much and all as I don't want to.  She's been sick for three days and doesn't seem to be getting better.  Also, it seems that rheumatic fever is probably due to an overactive immune system which dd does have and that makes me slightly nervous.


I'm still waiting for some old-school MDC mamas to chime in here though.  I know people have treated strep/scarlet fever alternatively.  There are some great older threads about this.

So, if people on MDC tell you that your kid needs the antibiotics and that it's serious and that's not what you want to hear, your response is to insult us and pull out the crunch card? Yikes.  Ultimately, all of this mothering isn't about us.  It's about our kids.  When our kids are clearly suffering, it's time to quit worrying about our crunch cards and how we're labeled and parent the little people in front of us as they need it.  


I could give you my laundry list of qualifications for being a "crunchy enough mama" for you to listen to, but I don't think it matters.  You asked for opinions here and described a very sick, obviously suffering child.  Respond to your child.  

post #25 of 44

Hey  :)    Old school MDCer here who just went through strep.  I woke up with a raging sore throat etc.   and dragged myself to the doc.   Started on ABX and by the next DAY I was good as new.  Please give your child the antibiotics. 

post #26 of 44

I really hope that your daughter hasn't already suffered permanent damage, and that you've given her the antibiotics.

post #27 of 44

My great aunt died from scarlet fever in the 1940's before the introduction on antibiotics.  I'm not a huge fan of antibiotic.  I've seen first hand the effects of the super bugs in my patients.

I understand you want treat your daughter naturally, but scarlet fever is a systemic strep infection.  It is very serious.

post #28 of 44

old school mdc-er and strep sufferer here.  give your child the antibiotics.  trust me, at 3-4 days of the agony you are describing, you would be on your knees and knuckles begging for antibiotics if you were your dd - i've had a couple of bouts of it like you are describing and i truly felt like i was suffering in the real sense of the word. 


this is the time to meditate on being grateful for every little mercy (having medical care and medicine for your sick child) rather than meditating on which "crunchy" remedy to give and patting yourself on the back for holding out against the doctor's suggestion and prescription. 

post #29 of 44


Originally Posted by oaktreemama View Post

Many people believe scarlet fever is what caused Helen Keller's blindness and deafness. 


I had strep throat as a college student and ignored it thinking it was just a virus. Like Mosaic it took two rounds of antibiotics to finally kick it. I also had PSGN (my kidneys were unable to properly work) as a result of the infection so was simply miserable for months. And who knows what having that may eventually mean for my kidney function.


How can you deny your daughter antibiotics??

 Scarlet Fever was also what made Mary Ingalls blind for life in the Little House series.

post #30 of 44

I think even the most OG MDC member is going to tell you to give the ABX. This isn't one of those times they were prescribed as a precautionary; this is warranted and not doing so could put your child's health in jeopordy.  Why take that risk?   

post #31 of 44

I recently went through strep.  It was awful.  I had a sore throat on Sunday afternoon and by that night I felt like I was on my deathbed.  I was at urgent care the next morning the second it opened to be seen.  I wasn't going to even mess around trying to get a doc appt later in the day.  My tonsils were so swollen they were practically touching.  The uc doc wanted me on steroids it was so bad.  I popped those antibiotics like candy and felt measurably better that night.  My DS was recovering from a GI illness and still wasn't himself.  I took him to the doc and he tested positive for strep.  You bet I gave him those abx right away.  I didn't want him getting as sick as I was.  It was unbearable.  I was so concerned about getting the abx in him I mixed it with natural chocolate syrup - which if you know me would be shocking, I don't do sweets with my son.  ever. - There were times when my DH and I had to (heartbreakingly) hold him down and pour it down his throat.  It was horrible for all involved, but I wasn't going to mess around with it.  We use natural treatments whenever possible.  We do high dose C, we do D3, herbal remedies, etc.  But strep is nasty business and I wouldn't let my DS suffer through what I had.  Give probiotics between abx doses to help save the gut. 

post #32 of 44
Thread Starter 

I gave her the abx last night.  She's already feeling better.  She started getting a rash on her face over a week ago and I thought she was having an allergic reaction, except that it was more pronounced than it had ever been before and was causing weeping eczema behind her ears.  It was bright red on the sides of her face and neck and very hot to the touch.  On Friday she woke up with a fever and had pain in her neck/lymph nodes.  I took her to the doctor that morning and we both thought she was having an intense food reaction or supplement reaction (she had no throat pain whatsoever).  She had started some new supplements the week before, including iodine which can have very strong effects.  She didn't get really sick until Sunday.  And she never once complained of a sore throat so I had no idea to even think of strep.  Even yesterday and Sunday she didn't have a particularly sore throat.  Her swollen neck hurt a lot, she had body aches and was obviously sick but not with the type of pain you would associate with strep.  I was more thinking that she might have mumps


Thanks for all your responses.  It was a very difficult decision for me to give her the meds.  I believe in the body's ability to heal and grow stronger from illness.  But yes, I could see that there was something different going on here and she needed help to knock this down.  My criticism only applies to a few of the responses here which were a bit on the nasty side.  You know, I'm not a sadist, of course I don't want to see my child suffer.  My reasons for questioning standardized medical treatment are firmly grounded in logic and experience, believe me.   Also, I've researched this endlessly for the past two days and I don't think I would choose to treat a lesser, more common strep infection with antibiotics right away.  There is plenty of evidence to suggest that waiting a few days is not only safe, but gives the body a chance to develop some antibodies to strep bacteria which will help the child fight off infections more easily in the future.  And untreated strep almost always resolves on its own in a matter of days without incident.  In this situation I think I made a sound choice given the severity of her symptoms, but I can't say I would do the same in every circumstance.


If anyone is interested, which I guess is pretty unlikely, there are some interesting older threads (not from any of the pps here) about treating strep/scarlet fever naturally.  People did used to suffer severe consequences from strep of course (and still do in many places), but MOST people who got it recovered just fine.  

Edited by joybird - 4/6/11 at 11:31am
post #33 of 44

I'm glad she's feeling better.  


Is she  old enough (or feeling well enough) to gargle with warm salt water?    That was one of my grandmother's go-to treatments for sore throats, and in my experience if you do it well and regularly, it really helps.   If the infection is confined to a few spots on the throat, saltwater gargling can actually help fight the infection, and even if it's more deeply entrenched, it makes the throat feel better.   But you need to make sure she doesn't drink any of it, because gulping saltwater isn't going to make her feel any better.  



post #34 of 44
Thread Starter 

That's just the thing.  Her throat didn't seem to hurt the whole time.  Her tonsils were inflamed but she wasn't having throat pain...which is why strep infection was not obvious right away.

post #35 of 44
Originally Posted by joybird View Post

That's just the thing.  Her throat didn't seem to hurt the whole time.  Her tonsils were inflamed but she wasn't having throat pain...which is why strep infection was not obvious right away.

My dd had a very similar experience with scarlet fever. Her throat wasn't that sore, so we (actually she was staying at my mom's for a few days, but I was in constant contact with my mom regarding her fever/illness) didn't take her to the doctor right away. On the 4th day, my mom called me and said she had a rash, still had a fever, but otherwise wasn't feeling too bad. Needless to say, I went to get her immediately. When I saw her my heart nearly broke. She looked awful! Dark rings under her eyes, rash, strawberry tongue. I took her to the doctor immediately, and it was strep/scarlet fever. That was the first time she took antibiotics (she was 6). She got strep the next year and it was much, much worse. Very sore throat and glands so sore and swollen in her neck that I completely freaked out thinking she had meningitis! She had her second round of antibiotics that time. That was two years ago, and she hasn't had to take antibiotics since then. Our ped won't even prescribe them without a positive culture. That's for anything. Not just strep. That makes me trust that when she prescribes them, she takes it very seriously and it's the best course of action.


I'm glad your dd seems to be on the road to recovery. :)


post #36 of 44

I had strep throat 18-20 times as a child. Not once did it begin with a sore throat, it was usually other symptoms that clued my mom in - fever, lethargy, etc. So not feeling a sore throat (but feeling other icky symptoms) is I think totally possible. 


Glad to hear your dd is doing better, and glad you took this situation seriously. You are 100% right - most strep infections will resolve themselves, usually without abx. The ones that progress to scarlet fever (whether immediately or after a protracted illness) are the ones that can get very bad very quickly, and need antibiotics. 


I hope she continues to feel better!

post #37 of 44
Hey, joybird,

I'm so glad she is feeling better. I just wanted to chime in as someone who has had pretty much all of the strep-family illnesses. I had strep all the time as a child. I had mono twice...yup, twice. I had Rheumatic Fever when I was 12, and then 10 years of a heart murmur and periodic flare-ups of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis as a result. The arthritis was occasionally bad enough for me to use a wheelchair to go to school. Fortunately no kidney damage, but I wasn't allowed to run or play roughly for 6 months until the swelling went down. I had Scarlet Fever in my mid-twenties.

I still have a small murmur...nothing to worry about, though. The arthritis cleared up when I was in college, but I understand I have an increased risk of age-related rheumatoid arthritis later in life. No other lingering side-effects.

I will always wonder if I had so many strep complications because of how often I was on abx as a child. I do wonder if maybe the strep I contracted was more virulent each time because of that. Then again, maybe it saved my life on more than one occasion. No way to know now.

I have to say that, in your position, I may have tried a day or two of alternative medications, as long as the doctor was working very closely with me and as long as both strep and rheumatoid levels were being checked frequently. I know the risks of strep, and I'd only go a day or two to see if I could get those numbers down. But I would not feel badly about ending up on abx, either. If ever there was a good time to use that very miraculous medical discovery, now is it, mama. Good move! I know how hard it is.
post #38 of 44
Thread Starter 

It's hard to know.  I think some people are more susceptible to strep and other infections due to genetic makeup as well as the internal flora and biological terrain.  The things you describe are exactly why I avoid antibiotics so fiercely.  It only makes sense that when the body is allowed to progress through an illness and overcome infection naturally, it has the internal memory and will be able to mount a more effective response in the future.  Its the same reason I don't vaccinate my kids or medicate their mild illnesses.  The body usually knows what it is doing and it goes against my intuition to mess around with that too much.  This is the first time I've had to intervene with conventional treatment and to be honest, I have reservations about it.  I wish I had realized it was strep sooner because I would have been much more aggressive with natural treatments.  I believe I could have supported her system well enough to fight it off without abx if I had started treating her at the first symptoms.


Of course, the other issue is gut health which can be severely compromised by antibiotics no matter how careful you are.  Since 90% of our immunity comes from the gut, people who are exposed to antibiotics (or vaccines) have less natural resistance to illness.  I'm upset about that for dd because its the last thing she needs.  On the other hand, when this started I thought she was having a reaction to iodine which bummed me out equally because I'm just learning about its importance and I feel like its going to be a big thing for us health-wise.  Not to mention the fact that I live on the west coast and am not very keen on having iodine-deficient kiddos at this moment in time...



Edited by joybird - 4/6/11 at 6:44pm
post #39 of 44
Originally Posted by joybird View Post

That's just the thing.  Her throat didn't seem to hurt the whole time.  Her tonsils were inflamed but she wasn't having throat pain...which is why strep infection was not obvious right away.

The one time strep advanced to scarlet fever, that's exactly what happened with me. There are multiple strains of strep, and the one I picked up that time didn't make me feel nearly as crappy as "regular" strep does, so I didn't get on top of antibiotics until it was apparent that I had scarlet fever. Go figure.

post #40 of 44

Glad you gave the abx and she's feeling better!   Nothing wrong with giving abx when it's needed, and it sounds like this was definitely one of those times!

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