Fifth Disease

Erythema Infectiosum is called fifth disease. It is a mild illness caused by a virus. This virus most commonly occurs in children. The disease usually causes a bright red rash that appears on both cheeks. The rash has a "slapped cheek" appearance. Before the rash, the patient usually has a low-grade fever, mild upper respiratory symptoms, and a headache. One to three days after the cheek rash appears, a pink, lacy rash appears on the body, arms, and legs. This rash may come and go for up to 5 weeks. It often gets brighter following warm baths, exercise, and sun exposure. Your child may have no other symptoms or only a slight runny nose, sore throat, and very low fever. Complications are rare. This illness is quite harmless. Fifth disease also occurs in adolescents and adults. In this age group initial symptoms will be joint pain. The joint pain is usually in the hands, wrists, and ankles.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Treatment is not necessary. No vaccine is available.

  • This disease is not very contagious. It is usually not necessary to keep your child away from other children.

  • Pregnant women should avoid being exposed.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • An oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C) develops, or the temperature remains high and is not controlled by medication.

  • Your child seems to be getting worse.

  • The rash becomes itchy.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.