Doctor's Notes on Fifth Disease
Fifth disease (also called erythema infectiosum, or EI) is a mild viral illness that usually occurs during winter and spring, and most commonly in children aged 5 to 14 years.
Symptoms of fifth disease begin as mild vague illness. Early symptoms last several days and include
About one week to 10 days later, the characteristic bright red facial rash (slapped cheeks appearance) suddenly develops and then fades within about four days. As the red facial rash fades, a light pink rash appears on the arms and may spread to the trunk, buttocks, and thighs. This light pink rash then gradually fades to a lacy pattern that lasts three to four days before going away.
What Is the Treatment for Fifth Disease?
Fifth disease is a common virus that often goes away on its own without treatment.
Home treatment for fifth disease includes rest at home and plenty of adequate hydration.
Symptoms of fifth disease may be treated with medications:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers
- Antihistamines to relieve itching
Antibiotics are not used to treat fifth disease because it is caused by a virus.
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.