Also known as “slapped cheek syndrome” fifth disease begins with relatively unspecific symptoms—a low-grade fever, runny nose, headache and sometimes an upset tummy. Then the telltale rash on the cheeks emerges before spreading to the rest of the body.
The rash is not usually itchy, and lasts anywhere from a week to a few weeks. If you suspect fifth disease, have a doctor confirm it (if you’re pregnant, fifth disease can cause problems for unborn babies).
Fifth disease is spread like a cold, through saliva and nasal mucus, but in children, it doesn’t require treatment. However, if your child is feeling feverish or has achy joints, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help. Once the rash develops, the virus is no longer contagious.