Symptoms and Signs of Fifth Disease

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 low-grade fever, runny or stuffy nose, mild sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, and a headache. 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.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.