Slapped Cheek Disease (Fifth Disease)

Slapped Cheek Disease – what is it?

This is a viral infection affecting young or school aged children.

The rash may have a ‘lacy’ appearance and be itchy.

Time from exposure to illness (incubation period): 4–14 days.

Signs and symptoms

  • Fever, tiredness, headache, sore throat, runny nose and general aches and pains.
  • These disappear after a few days and then a bright red rash appears on the face.
  • The rash may have a ‘lacy’ appearance and be itchy.
  • Some children may also have a pink blotchy rash on their limbs and body.
Young father playing with his daughter inside with toys

Treatment at home

  • Paracetamol can be used to relieve the fever, aches and pains.
  • Don’t overheat your child, dress them in light clothing and bathe them as normal.
  • Give extra drinks while they have a fever.

Infectious period

Children affected are most infectious during the incubation period and when they show the first symptoms. Keep them at home while they are unwell to reduce the spread of the infection. They are no longer infectious once the rash has appeared.

Note: Pregnant women who have been in contact with a child who has the illness should see their doctor immediately. So should children who have a blood disorder like leukaemia.

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