Fifth Disease

What is Fifth Disease?

Fifth disease is a mild rash and is also known as Slapped Cheek Syndrome, Slap cheek, Slap face, Slapped face, or Erythema infectiosum and is one of several possible signs of infection by parvovirus B19.

The name of the disease is derived from its place on the list of rash-causing childhood diseases which includes measles (1st), scarlet fever (2nd), rubella (3rd), and Duke’s disease (4th). Fifth disease often affects pre-schoolers and school-aged children during the spring.

The unmistakable sign of this illness is bright-red cheeks.  The disease is transmitted via fluids in the mouth and nose when someone sneezes or coughs but can also be spread by contact with infected blood. 20% of those who get the virus will not have symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Fifth Disease?

The disease usually starts with  runny nose, low-grade fever, and headache. Later a rash will appear on the cheeks. Sometimes the rash will even cover the bridge of the nose and areas around the mouth. Some individuals also experience joint pain and swelling. The rash may itch and last anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks.

Teenagers and adults may experience self-limited arthritis and have difficulty walking and bending joints like wrists, ankles, knees, shoulders, and fingers. As the rash begins to go away it may have a lacy appearance.

How is Fifth Disease Treated?

In most cases the disease will go away on its own.

Treatment includes

Drinking plenty of fluids and getting extra rest will help. Treatment focuses primarily on managing symptoms such as fever, itching, joint pain and swelling. Taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) can reduce pain.


Last Reviewed:
October 06, 2016
Last Updated:
August 09, 2017
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