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What Those Telltale Red and White Patches in Your Child's Throat Mean

What Those Telltale Red and White Patches in Your Child's Throat Mean

Sore throats sometimes seem to cycle endlessly for some children, like ear infections and perpetually runny noses. Though it’s common for a child to complain when their throat hurts, there are times when you shouldn’t simply dismiss it as another bug that’s making the rounds. 

Strep throat is an infection caused by group A streptococcus bacteria. While anyone can get it, strep seems to favor children, typically in late winter and early spring. Due to its potential complications, strep throat is a reason to visit Dr 2 Kids, Smita Tandon MD. Dr. Tandon can confirm the condition and begin appropriate treatment as a strep throat specialist. 

Telltale red and white patches

A peek inside your child’s mouth when they complain of a sore throat is a good idea since strep is usually easy to recognize. The group A streptococcus bacteria cause a bright red infection from the tonsils forward, often creating red spots on the roof of the mouth. This redness strongly contrasts against the normal pink coloring of the inside of the mouth and throat. 

As well as the redness, white patches or streaks could be noticed. These are pus blisters or streaks of pus from broken blisters. The combination of red and white patches is often enough to provide a confident diagnosis. Still, it’s normal to follow up with a rapid antigen test for strep or a throat culture sample as confirmation. 

Other symptoms of strep throat

Another classic characteristic of strep throat is how fast it starts. A child who was fine at breakfast may be reporting to the school nurse by lunchtime. More benign sore throats tend to follow a period of low energy as a cold develops. The onset of a sore throat may be 24 hours from when your child starts to slow down until the first sore throat complaint. 

They will likely have trouble swallowing. Strep throat is often accompanied by headache and fever. Your child could complain of general body aches, while younger children could experience nausea and vomiting. The lymph nodes on their neck could be swollen. 

Potential complications of strep throat

Strep infections can spread to other body parts, including the tonsils and sinuses, middle ear, blood, and skin. These bacteria can also cause inflammatory reactions, the most common being scarlet fever, named for the extensive red skin rash it causes. Other inflammatory conditions caused by strep include: 

Seek emergency medical attention if your child develops an inability to swallow or has difficulty breathing. 

Strep throat is easy to treat with antibiotics that produce results quickly, though it’s essential to finish the prescribed course since strep stays active after the initial symptoms are gone. It’s a very contagious infection, so take steps to protect yourself and other family members with frequent hand washing and mouth covering when coughing or sneezing.

Contact Dr 2 Kids, Smita Tandon MD, at the first sign of those telltale red and white patches. You can reach the office by phone or through the request appointment link on this page. With strep throat, treatment means relief, so schedule a consultation now. 

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