Welcome to the ProSquad! We check in regularly with our team of experts to get answers to parenting's trickiest dilemmas and hottest issues. This week, our resident doctor gives us the scoop on treating strep throat.

Can I really treat my child's strep throat without antibiotics?

I often get this question from parents, wondering if antibiotics are absolutely necessary. I have to say, it's quite the change from a few years ago, and I'm glad more and more parents are trending away from the use of unnecessary medications. I, too, am prudent about unnecessary antibiotics and other medicines in children. However, when it comes to a bona fide strep throat infection that has been diagnosed by a throat culture, your child absolutely needs the appropriate antibiotics to clear that infection and prevent serious post strep complications. Why? Because although your child's strep throat will improve on its own after a few days of infection, she is still at risk for spreading this infection to others. Most importantly, this puts her at risk for complications such as Rheumatic Fever and post strep glomerulonephritis, a potentially serious kidney disease that can lead to kidney failure.

If your child's sore throat is simply the result of a viral infection and has had a negative strep culture, then you can most certainly ease her symptoms by having her drink warm liquids, sucking on popsicles, and/or gargling with warm salt water. These types of sore throats that are due to viruses usually have associated viral symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, and/or cough. They do not need antibiotics and are amenable to the above natural remedies…and time.


Medical Pro, Melissa Arca

Melissa Arca, M.D. is a board certified pediatrician, mom of two, writer, and blogger who has found her passion in writing and speaking about parenting and children's health. She realizes that parenting is not an exact science and offers her practical tips on handling common parenting dilemmas. In addition, she loves educating parents and children about their health and ways to improve it.

She authors a weekly Dr.Mom column in The Sacramento Bee and appears weekly on KCRA with Dr.Mom tips on a variety of pediatric health topics. Her blog, Confessions of a Dr.Mom, is truly the place where doctor and mom collide.

Dr.Arca received her undergraduate degree from UC Irvine and went on to obtain her medical degree from USC Keck School of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency in 2003 from Children's Hospital Los Angeles and is a member of the AAP Council on Communication and Media.

She lives in Northern California with her husband and children, ages 4 and 6. They visit the ocean any free chance they get.