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Fifth disease (erythema infectiosum) is a contagious and usually mild viral illness that is common in children. Early symptoms of fifth disease are like flu symptoms, which are then followed by a rash on the face that looks like slapped cheeks and a lacy pink rash on the backs of the arms and legs, torso, and buttocks.
This illness is most contagious the week before the rash appears. After the rash has started, the child usually is no longer contagious. The rash may come and go for several weeks in response to changes in temperature and sunlight.
Home treatment with rest, fluids, and pain relievers can help keep the child comfortable.
Fifth disease, although usually a mild illness in children, poses a slight risk to developing fetuses. Exposure to the disease during pregnancy should be avoided, if possible. If you are exposed to a child who has fifth disease while pregnant or if you develop a rash like that caused by fifth disease, you should contact your doctor.
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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