Fifth disease: symptoms, treatments and contagion (PHOTO)

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La fifth disease or infectious erythema is one of the most frequent infectious diseases in children and is due to parvovirus B 19. Here is the information on symptoms, contagion and how to treat it with the advice of Alberto Villani, Head of General Pediatrics and Infectious Diseases of the Bambin Gesù Pediatric Hospital in of the city.

In this article

  • what is the fifth disease
  • why it is called fifth disease
  • at what age do you contract the fifth disease
  • the symptoms, as you recognize
  • how it is transmitted
  • how long does the incubation last
  • however contagious it is
  • the course of the disease
  • how do you care
  • can you take it multiple times in life?
  • the rules of prevention
  • Can the child go to school with fifth disease?


1. What is fifth disease?

Fifth disease is a viral exanthematous infection caused by Parvovirus B19.

2. Why is it called 'fifth' disease?

Because the various exanthematous diseases have been classified with a numerical order and infectious erythema was given fifth place, after measles, scarlet fever, rubella and what was once identified with atypical scarlet fever or 'scarlet fever' (see also fourth disease or scarlet fever).

3. At what age does it contract?

Mainly from 4-5 years up to adolescence and the period of the year in which it occurs most often is from mid-winter to mid-spring. It is a very common disease: about half of the population already has antibodies, so they are protected.

4. Symptoms: how is fifth disease recognized?


  • cheeks flushed and hot
  • after a few days, the rash also passes on the arms, legs and trunk
  • in some children there are also flu-like symptoms

The most typical symptom is represented by the so-called slapped face: the cheeks are red and warm, as if the child had been slapped. After a few days the rash spreads on the arms, legs and, to a lesser extent, on the trunk, with patches of about 1 cm in diameter, red-pink in color, usually isolated and undetected, which may have a ring-like appearance , clear in the center and reddened at the edge. Sometimes they are itchy. In some children, flu-like symptoms such as low-grade fever, mild general malaise, muscle aches, runny nose, headache may occur 7-10 days before the onset of the 'slap face'.

The fifth disease, images and how it is transmitted


Fifth disease in children: how it is recognized (PHOTO)

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What are the symptoms of this disease? It can start with a mild fever, headache and flu symptoms which then fade to give way to a manifestation of ...

5. How is fifth disease transmitted?

It is transmitted by air, through the droplets of saliva.

6. How long does the incubation last?

The incubation lasts from a week to 10 days, but in some cases it can last up to 2-3 weeks.

7. When are you contagious?

The fifth disease is contagious only in the days immediately preceding the appearance of the rash, therefore even before it is clearly understood that it is a fifth disease.

8. The course of the disease?

The fifth disease is a disease annoying but benign, which just requires a little patience. In most cases, all symptoms go away within ten days, but sometimes the rash can persist for 2-3 weeks, especially if the skin is exposed to sun, intense cold or heat, or physical exertion.

9. How is fifth disease treated?

The fifth disease does not require drugs, because it heals by itself.

10. Can you recover at other times in your life?

It is very unlikely, since after contact with the virus the organism develops antibodies, but in rare cases it could flare up.

11. The rules of prevention


  • wash your hands often
  • do not put your hands in your mouth

The general rules of hygiene are useful, that is, wash your hands often, do not put your hands in your mouth, use disposable handkerchiefs.

12. Can the child with fifth disease go to school?

In theory, yes, because when the rash appears and he knows he has the fifth disease it is no longer contagious. However, if he has a fever or general malaise, a few days at home may allow him to rest more.

To know more:

  • the fourth disease
  • the sixth disease

  • infectious erythema
  • 1-2 children years
  • exanthematous diseases
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