What is fifth disease?

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Fifth disease is a caused by a virus that often causes red-colored rash on the legs, arms and cheeks. Due to this, it is also called as “slapped cheek disease” and quite common and mild in most children but it can be severe in pregnant women or those who have a compromised immune system.

In most cases, the doctor will advise the individual to wait out the symptoms since there is no medication that will shorten the course of the disease. Nevertheless, those who have a weakened immune system should be monitored until the symptoms vanish.

Causes of fifth disease

Fifth disease is triggered by a virus known as parvovirus B19 which spreads among children in schools. This disease is quite prevalent during the winter and spring season but can spread at any time among people of all ages.

Fifth disease
Many adults possess antibodies that prevent them from developing fifth disease due to previous exposure during childhood. On the other hand, once an individual becomes infected as an adult, the symptoms can be severe.

Many adults possess antibodies that prevent them from developing fifth disease due to previous exposure during childhood. On the other hand, once an individual becomes infected as an adult, the symptoms can be severe. If a pregnant woman acquires fifth disease, there are serious risks for the unborn baby. As for children who have healthy immune systems, fifth disease is common but mild that rarely leads to lasting complications.

Symptoms of fifth disease

The symptoms of fifth disease are general and often include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Low-grade fever
  • Nausea

After a few days of suffering these symptoms, most young patients develop red-colored rash that initially appears on the cheeks. The rash can spread to the legs, arms and trunk within a few days. The rash can last for weeks but usually by the time they are present, the individual is no longer contagious.

The rash is likely to appear in children than in adults. In reality, the main symptom among adults is joint pain. Take note that the joint pain can last for several weeks and quite prominent in the ankles, wrists and knees.

Diagnosing fifth disease

Oftentimes, the doctor will diagnose the condition just by looking at the skin rash. If the individual is likely to face serious consequences from fifth disease such pregnant women or those who have compromised immune systems, the doctor will test the specific antibodies.

Treatment

For many individuals, treatment is not needed. In case the joints feel sore or the individual experiences a headache or fever, acetaminophen can be given to relieve the symptoms. Otherwise, just wait for the body to fight the virus which can span for 1-3 weeks. The process can be hastened by drinking plenty of fluids and getting enough rest. Children can return to school once the red-colored rash appears since they are no longer contagious. To learn to recognize and manage the symptoms of fifth disease, sign up for training in first aid with a provider near you.

Prevention

Since fifth disease typically spreads from one individual to another via airborne secretions, it is best to minimize contact with those who are sneezing, blowing or coughing. It is also important to wash your hands frequently to help minimize the risk of contracting the disease. Once the individual contracts this virus, he/she is considered immune for life.

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