Understanding Fifth Disease (Erythema Infectiosum)
Signs of the illness can be quite apparent, but are not always present in all infected individuals. Look out for the following tell-tale signs:
- At the beginning, symptoms may resemble common cold signs, including headache, general malaise and fever.
- Within seven to 10 days, a characteristic rash can develop starting on the face (referred to as slapped cheeks). Sometimes, a lace-like rash, often itchy, can develop on the body and involve the arms, buttocks, and thighs.
- The rash may disappear and then reappear after exposure to heat (i.e. after a bath or shower), sun exposure or after exercising for weeks. However, some children can be infected without ever exhibiting such symptoms.
Incubation and contagion periods:
Children and adults may contract the virus in the following ways:
- By direct contact
- Through breathing, coughing or sneezing
- Indirect contact (by touching surfaces that have been infected)
There is no vaccine or treatment for Fifth disease, says Dr. Quach, who recommends letting the virus run its course.