Symptoms of fifth disease
Fifth disease is usually a mild illness with symptoms developing four days to two weeks after a person becomes infected with parvovirus B19. The “slapped cheek” red rash on the face, which is more common in children than adults, is the most common symptom of fifth disease. Often, the appearance of the distinctive rash helps doctors distinguish what is fifth disease and what probably isn’t.
Some people with fifth disease develop a second rash on their chest, back, buttocks, or arms and legs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out. This secondary rash may vary in intensity and can cause annoying itching, especially on the soles of the feet.
Although the rashes caused by fifth disease resolve in seven to 10 days, they can come and go for over the course of several weeks. As the rash starts to fade, it may take on a lacy appearance.
Other symptoms of fifth disease include a fever, runny nose, and headache.
While healthy kids and adults usually recover quickly, some people with fifth disease develop polyarthropathy syndrome — pain and swelling in their joints, primarily their hands, feet or knees.
These joint symptoms of fifth disease usually last one to three weeks, although they can last for several months or even longer. The good news, according to the CDC, is that fifth disease-caused polyarthropathy usually goes away without any long-term problems.
Fifth disease treatment
Most people with fifth disease are treated only with symptomatic measures to help them feel more comfortable, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. For example, if your child has fifth disease, your pediatrician may recommend acetaminophen to lower fever and ease aches and pains. Antihistamines may also be prescribed to relieve any itching associated with the rash.
If your child’s symptoms of fifth disease are getting worse instead of better over time, or if your youngster develops joint swelling, contact your pediatrician right away.
February 27, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN