Slapped cheek syndrome 

Slapped cheek syndrome, also known as fifth disease, is a viral infection that is fairly common in children. Here, a GP talks about the symptoms to look out for.

Causes of slapped cheek syndrome

Transcript of Slapped cheek syndrome

Slapped cheek syndrome is a viral infection.

It's caused by a virus called parvovirus B19.

Slapped cheek syndrome is spread in the air when we cough or laugh,

when we sneeze, or in saliva and air droplets when we're in close contact.

That's why when children get it,

it's mostly children between the age of four and 12.

It can spread very rapidly throughout a classroom or school.

The symptoms to look out for are generally those of a common cold,

so sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, headache, fever.

But the characteristic of this infection is the rash.

This is the slapped cheek appearance,

the blotchy red rash on one or both cheeks

that will remain there but could spread to the rest of the body.

It may go to the trunk, back, arms, legs, the palms of the hands,

the soles of the feet. Generally, it's not painful

but it might be irritating for some.

Unlike the worrying rash of meningitis, if you press this rash it will fade.

Often a child who has got the infection barely gets any symptoms at all,

so it's the usual management of any viral infection,

plenty of rest, plenty of fluids.

And for sore throats or a high temperature

children's paracetamol of ibuprofen is perfectly reasonable.

If you're not sure have a word with a pharmacist or with your doctor.

The people who need to be concerned are pregnant women.

If you get the infection in pregnancy and you've not had it before

in early pregnancy it can increase the risk of miscarriage.

Generally, slapped cheek syndrome is not an infection to be too worried about.

Most people get this infection and don't even know they've had it.

It clears up without leaving any long-term complications.

If you're not sure whether your child has it or another infection

then it's always best to seek medical advice.

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