Home > Childhood Skin Problems > All About Fifth's Disease

All About Fifth's Disease

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 30 Apr 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Fifth’s Disease Virus Immune System

Fifth’s Disease is a common childhood illness that affects primarily children between the ages of five and 15. In healthy children it is nothing to be worried about, and is, in fact, incredibly common.

It starts out with a red rash on the cheek, which looks often like the child has been slapped, then spreads to other parts of the body. That’s why it is sometimes known as Slapped cheek syndrome, while it is also commonly referred to as Fifth Disease (both spellings are correct).

Fifth's Disease is caused by the parvovirus B19, and is a viral infection that may look scary, but actually clears up quickly and is no real cause for concern for the vast majority of people with normal immune systems.

In fact, tests have shown that up to 60 percent of adults worldwide have had the virus at some point in their lives, although most of them had such mild symptoms that they were completely unaware of it at the time.

Symptoms of Fifth’s Disease

Also known as erythema infectiosum, Fifth’s Disease often breaks out in late winter and early springtime, although it can occur anywhere, at any season. While at first it looks like a bizarre skin complaint, it is actually part of a viral infection that will eventually clear up on its own.

Fifth’s Disease is usually most contagious before the rash appears, so many people don’t know they have it until they unwittingly pass it on to others. In fact, most people don’t know they have the virus until four days to two weeks after they have become infected.

Like many viral illnesses, the virus that causes Fifth’s Disease is usually passed on through tiny droplets in coughs and sneezes. So teaching your children to cover their mouth when they sneeze and/or cough, to use a tissue and to dispose of it properly is key to stopping the spread of this illness.

At first the red facial rash appears, which then spreads to other parts of the body. It can be accompanied by a fever and similar flu-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sore threat and overall feeling of malaise.

Some children will also experience nausea, diarrhoea and occasionally abdominal pain, while adults with Slapped cheek syndrome can get aching joints. In very rare cases, neurological or cardiovascular symptoms have been reported amongst members of the adult population who come down with this illness.

Possible Complications

If your child has a weakened or impaired immune system due to the HIV virus, leukaemia or other medical conditions (such as a blood disorder like sickle cell anaemia), then Fifth’s Disease can be a cause for concern.

The viral infection can slow own the production of red blood cells, and cause anaemia. It can also cause severe anaemia in foetuses that may result in miscarriage, although the majority of pregnant women are immune. If you are pregnant and have been around someone with Fifth’s Disease and notice a rash, see your GP immediately.

Similarly, if you or your child has the parvovirus and you are in contact with someone who is pregnant, inform them – and inform your child’s school.

Straightforward Diagnosis

If you suspect your child has Fifth’s Disease, or indeed if you have it, see your GP for a proper diagnosis. Usually diagnosis is straightforward, but in some cases a test maybe taken to look for antibodies to the parvovirus.

Fifth’s Disease, in the vast majority of cases, is a common childhood infection that passes without incident. Bedrest and paracetamol are usually all that’s required for a complete recovery. Good luck!

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Ships
    Re: Preventing Fungal Skin Infections
    I am suffering from fungal infection, it has gone althrough my face, the redness, ictichiness. Please help....
    28 January 2018
  • Rahulchoudhary
    Re: Avoiding Chicken Pox Scars
    Hi i had chicken fox before 7months,now scars arenot prevent so there has any method to prevent its
    4 January 2018
  • LizzN
    Re: Recognising and Treating Boils
    @Akki - I would just let it take its own course. There is little you can do to prevent it from growing. But will subside again…
    20 November 2017
  • Akki
    Re: Recognising and Treating Boils
    It’s been two days there is a reddish pimple on my cheek and I know it is a boil...what can I do to prevent it from growing and…
    19 November 2017
  • EllieMN
    Re: Natural Remedies to Help Clear Eczema
    @maria - infections are categorised as bacterial, fungal, viral or parasitic infections. Tee-tree oil can be a good…
    9 November 2017
  • maria
    Re: Natural Remedies to Help Clear Eczema
    I developed eczema on my right breast and both of my hands. I was told it was ringworm on my breast and then it…
    7 November 2017
  • Jules
    Re: Dealing With Hard Skin
    @nicky - a know how you feel, mine are like a mans and I hate my feet being touched. Lots of moisturiser and more!
    2 November 2017
  • nicky
    Re: Dealing With Hard Skin
    my hands are embarrassingly hard I don't know what to do.. no one shakes my hand,not even my boyfriend.. it is so hard because I'm a woman…
    1 November 2017
  • Arya
    Re: Why Changing Shampoos Regularly Might Harm You
    Hey it's nice to read your suggestion So can you also suggest me as my hair is little bit dry and non shiny…
    29 October 2017
  • Samppp
    Re: Preventing Fungal Skin Infections
    Use following medication for Jock itch fungal . Valbet cream Atarax 10 mg tablet One can 150 Fluconazole tablet My…
    25 October 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SkinHelp website. Please read our Disclaimer.