Strep is a bacterial infection that's spread by coughing, sneezing, person-to-person contact (sharing a cup or holding hands), or from mucus or saliva on shared objects like pencils, crayons, books, and toys. This makes schools breeding grounds for the germs. Strep also tends to be most common in kids ages 6 to 10.
Some kids are more vulnerable to strep than others, but other than washing their hands frequently and teaching your kids not to put their hands or toys in their mouths or share cups or straws with their classmates, there's not much you can do it prevent it. If your kid catches strep, he'll likely come down with these common strep throat symptoms:
This can be uncomfortable, but most kids start feeling better within a day of taking antibiotics and will no longer be contagious after 24 hours of taking the medication. The infection should clear up fully after a full course of treatment, usually about 7 to 10 days.
However, there are also a few strange signs of strep that affect other parts of the body, says Joy Ziegler, MD, a pediatrician in Wakefield, Rhode Island. If you spot any of the conditions below, call an MD in case your child needs antibiotics just like you would after spotting the common symptoms of strep throat.
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What it looks like: A rash, usually around the nose or mouth. It starts off as red sores that rupture within a few days and form yellowish crusts. Kids get impetigo when bacteria invade a cut in the skin or nasal lining.
What it looks like: Pimples or a bright-red rash, possibly with a white coating, in the genital area. When strep throat or impetigo is going around, kids can spread the bacteria below the belt. Anal strep causes painful bowel movements, and your child might complain of a sore bottom. Vaginal strep makes urinating painful.
What it looks like: A red, sandpapery rash on the torso (it usually shows up in the groin and underarms) that's caused by the toxins produced by strep bacteria. Scarlet fever may accompany strep throat.