Fifth disease is caused by a virus that leads to a very distinct rash on the cheeks, arms and legs. It often affects preschoolers or school-age children during the spring. The disease is spread by contact with respiratory secretions.
The first sign of fifth disease is typically bright red cheeks, which look like the child has been slapped on both sides of the face. Following this, a rash appears on the arms and legs and middle of the body. The rash fades from the center outwards, giving it a lacy appearance, and completely goes away over 1 to 2 weeks.
No treatment is usually required for fifth disease in children. If your child has fever or joint discomfort, you may give oral acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Call your doctor if your child has symptoms of this disease. Other disorders can cause similar symptoms and should be ruled out.
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