Fifth Disease sounds like a big deal. Is it?

Fifth disease

The name “Fifth Disease” can make a parent pause and worry. “Does this mean my child has already had four other diseases that I overlooked? Is the fifth disease better or worse than the first one? Is there a sixth disease I need to watch for?”

Alzein Pediatrics understands how parents who’ve never seen Fifth Disease can be concerned by those suddenly bright red cheeks – and how parents who have seen it before may think differently.

Fifth Disease got its name because it was fifth in a list of historical classifications of common skin rash illnesses in children. It’s typically caused by parvovirus B19. Because the virus is airborne, it is usually passed through sneezing and coughing, often in school or daycare settings. Your child will start experiencing symptoms within two weeks of infection.

The most common symptom is a red rash on the face sometimes called “slapped cheek rash.”  Your Alzein healthcare provider can often diagnose Fifth Disease just by seeing the rash on your child’s face. Other symptoms of Fifth Disease are usually mild and may include:

  • fever
  • runny nose
  • headache

Your child may get also get a second rash on their chest, back, buttocks, arms, and legs. The rash may be itchy, especially on the soles of the feet. It can vary in intensity and usually resolves itself within seven to 10 days, but it can come and go for several weeks. As it starts to fade, it may look lacy.

In rare cases, we can also do a blood test to determine if your child is susceptible to parvovirus B19 infection. The blood test may be beneficial when a pregnant person in your household may have been exposed to parvovirus B19. Any pregnant woman who may have been exposed to parvovirus B19 should contact their obstetrician or healthcare provider as soon as possible.

The fifth Disease is usually mild and uneventful for children who are otherwise healthy. Complications can occur if your child has a weakened immune system. In rare cases, parvovirus B19 infection may cause serious health complications, such as chronic anemia that requires medical treatment.

If you suspect your child has Fifth Disease, call our office at 708-424-7600 or message us through your patient portal. We may recommend an in-office visit, a telehealth visit, or an over-the-counter pain reliever or cream to relieve itching and other symptoms.

Whenever you have questions about your child’s health, Alzein Pediatrics is here to help!

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