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Slapped cheek disease: Treatment, symptoms, advice & help

About slapped cheek disease

Slapped cheek disease also called ‘Fifth disease’ or ‘Erythema infectiosum’ is a benign condition caused by human parvovirus B19. Slapped cheek disease not only affects the skin but may also affect the joints and muscles.

Slapped cheek disease: Incidence, age and sex

Slapped cheek disease mainly affects children between the ages of 5-15 years; however it may also be seen in adults. This disease is more common in regions with temperate climate. Its incidence is slightly more in females as compared with males.

Signs and symptoms of slapped cheek disease: Diagnosis

The symptoms of the disease usually begin with occurrence of fever accompanied with sore throat, headache, joint pains or even abdominal pain. This is followed by occurrence of bright red rash on one or both the cheeks. This rash is characteristically painless but may be itchy. In some individuals, this may be followed by rash on the arms and trunks. The joint pain and stiffness mainly affects the joints of fingers, knee and wrist.

Slapped cheek disease is usually a clinical diagnosis and is evident by the history and physical appearance. No investigations are usually needed to establish the diagnosis.

Causes and prevention of slapped cheek disease

Slapped cheek disease is a viral infection caused by the human parvovirus B19. Individuals who are immuno-suppressed and pregnant women are more susceptible to acquire this viral infection.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for the prevention of slapped cheek disease. However frequent hand washing may help in curbing the spread of this contagious infection.

Slapped cheek disease: Complications

Slapped cheek disease, in most cases does not cause any complications except for prolonged joint stiffness and pain. However it is occasionally known to lead to complications in individuals with sickle cell disease and immuno-suppressed state. Moreover occurrence of slapped cheek disease in pregnant women may result in foetal harm.

Slapped cheek disease: Treatment

Slapped cheek disease is a self-limiting, viral disease which does not require any treatment. However, symptomatic relief may be obtained by paracetamol and analgesic medications. Slapped cheek disease has shown some rate of recurrence and thus it is advisable to monitor such patients. Maintaining adequate hygiene is also recommended to avoid transmission of this viral infection.