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Fifth Disease Usually Goes Away By Itself

A viral rash discussed in medical textbooks is known as fifth disease (Erythema Infectiosum). Fifth disease is a viral skin infection that is very contagious. It is mild, and is usually caught by children. A person of any age can be afflicted with this disease, however. The Parvovirus B 19 causes this viral infection. Children in the age group 5 to 15 years are most commonly affected by fifth disease, though babies and younger children can contract the disease as well. In rarer instances, teenagers and adults can get the disease, as well. Infections due to the virus occur late in winter or in early spring and are commonly spread via secretions from the mouth and nose.

Fifth Disease - Kid's Health Tips - HealthyKidTips.com

Fifth disease has several distinguishing symptoms. Unlike most illnesses with rashes, Fifth disease begins with a mild cold, a slight fever, a headache, and a running or stuffy nose. In some people these symptoms are present. In other cases, however, the infected person has no symptoms that resemble the common cold. In fact, the person contracting fifth disease doesn’t feel ill at all. Once the rash appears, fifth disease is no longer contagious.

During this initial period that lasts from six to eleven days, the disease is in the contagious phase. It is spread by the drops of fluid in the throat or mouth during coughs and sneezes. Infection spreads easily between family members. It also spreads quickly between children in the same classroom or in day care centres. Remember, once the disease has reached the rash phase, it is no longer contagious. If your child already has developed a rash, you can then send him or her back to school or to day care.

To prevent the spread of the infection from one person to another, hands must be washed frequently. Further precautions that can help prevent the infection include throwing away used tissues, and not sharing eating or drinking utensils or glasses. In fact, anything that can be touched by more than one person can spread fifth disease. Since we don’t know that the child has fifth disease until the rash appears, there is no point in isolating the child. By the time the rash appears, the child is no longer contagious, and has probably spread the infection merely by going about his or her daily routine.

Around the 6th to 11th day after the fever and other cold-like symptoms develop, a bright red rash begins on the face of the infected child. Its appearance on the cheeks is reminiscent of a slapped face, and fifth disease is sometimes called the slapped face disease. In addition, people can have the disease and have no symptoms. Or at times people have arthritis –like symptoms, with joints aching especially in the fingers, knees and wrists. This aching, along with a fever is a more common symptom of fifth disease among adults, rather than in children. Many adults have already been exposed to fifth disease, and already have antibodies for parvovirus B19. The adult may not know that they have had the disease as a child, however. Because they have probably been previously exposed, adults don’t usually get fifth disease.
The rash can spread to the arms, bottom, legs, and trunk. Blotches may appear. The core of the rash may clear up. The rash appears to have a lace or net like texture. In some children, especially older ones and in adults, itching may occur. In most other children, there is no fever or itching. Further, stress, heat, exercise, and sunlight make the rash become worse.

Swollen glands, red eyes, diarrhoea, sore throat, a blister-like rash or a bruise may make their appearance as fifth disease symptoms in some persons. Some of them may also have swelling or pain in the joints of ankles, wrists, hands, or knees, especially if a teen or adult has the disease.

Existing diseases such as leukaemia, other disorders of the blood, cancer, and immune deficiency in children may cause ill health if Erythema Infectiosum is contracted. Such ill health may present itself in the form of anaemia, paleness of skin, a fast pulse rate, and breathing problems.

For the most part, fifth disease is a mild virus that takes its natural course and passes through the system. Unfortunately, for some people fifth disease is a much more serious problem. For instance, a doctor's consultation becomes necessary when fifth disease occurs during pregnancy, blood cancer, fever, or a weak immune system. Also, people with anaemia and people with sickle cell disease can become very ill with acute anaemia that needs treatment immediately. Fifth disease can also cause anaemia in a pregnant woman and her unborn child. Therefore it must be treated by the woman’s physician as soon as possible, as well. In severe cases, fifth disease can cause a pregnant woman to have anaemia that is so advanced that she miscarries her child.

There is no point seeing the doctor or being prescribed antibiotics, as fifth disease is viral in nature. It doesn’t hurt to check with your family physician if you are unduly concerned, however. The illness is mostly mild and so no treatment is usually necessary for it. The rash goes away gradually. It may take any duration ranging between 1 to 3 weeks to clear up. Patients who are sensitive about their skin can consult their doctor about the use of lotions or creams to alleviate the rash. Aspirin should never be administered to children afflicted with the disease as it can cause serious problems.

For the most part, however, fifth disease does not require a doctor’s attention. Treating the symptoms by using a non-aspirin fever reducer such as acetaminophen and treating the itching of the rash are all the treatment required to keep the patient comfortable until the disease passes. These medications are available over the counter at your local pharmacy.