4 years ago

written by Scott Zashin, MD

“Slapped Cheek Syndrome,” also known as fifth disease or parvovirus B19, usually affects children. It is a mild to moderately contagious viral infection. It usually causes a bright red rash on the cheeks and occurs in the winter and early spring characterized by the sudden appearance of red cheeks on the face. The origin of the word parvovirus comes from a combination of the Latin “parvus,” meaning “small,” and the English “virus.”  Although the symptoms are mild and the virus doesn’t last very long, if your child has immunodeficiencies it could become serious. Otherwise, letting the virus run its course is the best course of action. It is a mild infection that usually clears up on its own.

How Is Slapped Cheek Syndrome Transmitted?

parvovirus-slapped-cheek-virus-fifth-disease-children-red-contagious-rheumatology-rheumatologist-scott-zashin-dallas-doctor-top-top10mdSlapped cheek syndrome/fifth disease is spread in a similar way to colds and the flu. You can become infected by inhaling droplets that are sneezed or coughed out by someone with the infection. The virus spreads between people through the air, saliva, or as a result of close contact. If you touch a contaminated object and then touch your mouth or nose, for example.

How Long Are You Contagious With Fifth Disease?

The time between getting the virus in your system and the start of the illness is called an incubation period. The incubation period for the fifth disease is 4 to 12 days. If you are infected with parvovirus B19 you are only contagious in the early part of the illness, before the red “slapped cheek” rash appears.


  • Headache
  • Malaise (feeling generally unwell)
  • Runny nose  
  • Sore throat
  • Slightly high temperature (fever) of around 38C (100.4F)
  • Upset stomach

What If My Child Has It?

Although slapped cheek syndrome is usually mild and should clear up without specific treatment, you can try the following to ease bothersome symptoms:

  • Take it easy – rest and drink plenty of fluids – babies should continue their normal feeds
  • Painkillers – for fever, headaches or joint pain, you can take painkillers, like ibuprofen – although children under 16 years old shouldn’t take aspirin
  • Anti-Itch Medicines – to reduce itchiness, you can take antihistamines or use an emollient (moisturizing lotion)

Schedule an appointment with Dallas Rheumatologist Dr. Scott Zashin today.

Dr. Scott Zashin is a respected Texas Fibromyalgia Doctor/Specialist in Dallas. He is dual board-certified by the American Board of Rheumatology and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Zashin is the Medical Director of Dallas Rheumatology conveniently located in Dallas, TX. For more information, call today to schedule a time to meet with Dr. Zashin 214-363-2812.

Posted in: Rheumatology


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