Fifth disease, or erythema infectiosum, is a mildly to moderately contagious viral infection common among school-age children. and it’s most prevalent in the winter and spring. Fifth disease causes a distinctive red rash on the face that makes a child appear to have a slapped cheek. A few days later, the rash spreads down to the trunk, arms, and legs. It usually lasts 1-3 weeks.
Fun fact: the infection got its name many years ago when it was the fifth on a list of six recognized childhood rash-forming illnesses. Others on the list included rubella, measles, scarlet fever, chickenpox, and roseola infantum. As with any illness, if you are worried about your child’s symptoms, make sure you visit your pediatrician or visit a pediatric urgent care like AllKids Pediatric Urgent Care.
Signs & Symptoms
Fifth disease begins with a low fever, headache and cold-like symptoms. These symptoms pass and the illness seems to be gone until the rash appears. The bright red rash will start on the face, then red blotches appear on the truck, arms, and legs. After a few days, the rash, which can be itchy, will take on a lacy net-like look. The infection can also sometimes cause swollen glands, red eyes, sore throat, diarrhea, and rashes that look like bruises or blisters. Joint swelling or pain can sometimes happen, especially in adults and older teens.
Can Fifth Disease Be Prevented?
There is no vaccine to prevent fifth disease and no real way to prevent spreading the virus because a person usually isn’t contagious by the time the rash appears. Washing hands well and often is always a good idea because it can help prevent the spread of many infections. Since the infection is caused by a virus it can’t be treated with antibiotics. In most cases, the illness clears up on its own, so no medicine is needed. Usually, kids with fifth disease feel okay and just need to rest. After the fever and mild cold symptoms are gone, there may be little to treat except for any discomfort from the rash.
When to Call the Doctor or Visit an Urgent Care
Call your doctor, or visit a Pediatric Urgent Care, if your child develops a rash, especially if the rash is widespread over the body or accompanied by other symptoms, like fever, cold-like symptoms, or joint pain.
Mesa Pediatric Urgent Care and Gilbert Pediatric Urgent Care
Children often present different symptoms than adults and may need different prescriptions and treatments. AllKids pediatric providers are trained to know and recognize these differences, ensuring your child receives the best health care available to them and their small bodies even in the most urgent of circumstances. Both our Gilbert Pediatric Urgent Care and our Mesa Pediatric Urgent Care are open every day, from noon to 10 pm. No appointment is necessary, just stop in and start your child on the road back to health.