Slapped Cheek Disease Complications, Prevention And Treatment


Slapped cheek disease is a minor, transient condition. The rash, though, could seem extremely dramatic. Usually, no therapy is required. Women who are pregnant and come into touch with others who have this sickness should seek medical attention since it can harm an unborn child.

The fifth illness or erythema infectiosum is another name for slapped cheek disease. It is a viral infection brought on by parvovirus B19. Children between the ages of 3 and 15 are most frequently affected by the slapped cheek sickness, although anybody can get it. Slapped cheek sickness is contagious (it is infectious). Before the rash develops, the infectious phase lasts for 4 to 20 days. Usually, the virus has lost its infectiousness by the time the rash appears.

Slapped cheek sickness only occurs once in a person's lifetime. Due to the choices you make, antibodies are produced during the illness to guard against contracting the same pathogen again in the future (virus).

Remember that pets like dogs or cats can receive a parvovirus vaccination. These parvoviruses, however, are animal-specific and distinct from parvovirus B19.

Children frequently experience slapped cheek syndrome, sometimes known as the fifth illness, which usually resolves on its own within three weeks. In adults, it is less common but can be more dangerous.

Bright red cheeks, a cold-like sickness, and occasionally an itchy rash on the chest and limbs are the hallmarks of slapped cheek disease.

It frequently affects school students and poses little harm to the majority of adults.

If exposure to the slapped cheek virus is suspected, pregnant women, people with hemolytic blood diseases, and others with weakened immune systems should visit a doctor.

Children in primary school are primarily affected by the viral illness known as "slapped cheek disease." It is caused by exposure to human parvovirus B19. The term comes from the bright red rash that develops on the cheeks, which makes them appear as though they have been smacked.

Like many viral diseases, it spreads through the mucus produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The mouth or nose of another individual gets touched with this mucous.

Slapped cheek illness typically takes four to 14 days to incubate following contact (in rare cases, up to 21 days). This infection is also known as the fifth disease, erythema infectiosum, slapped face disease and slapped cheek syndrome.

For the majority of children, slapped cheek illness infection initially only results in a cold. When the rash appears a few days later, these often get better.

The majority of patients with slapped cheek infections do not require much care. Relaxation and painkillers (like paracetamol) may be helpful.

Pregnant women may get a more severe infection. Occasionally, if a pregnant woman has this illness, her unborn child may suffer catastrophic repercussions, including miscarriage. Even when they get this virus, the majority of unborn children are unaffected.


Slapped cheek syndrome is difficult to keep from spreading since most people are unaware they have it until they develop a rash.

A virus is to blame for slapped cheek syndrome (parvovirus B19). By coughing or sneezing close to others, surfaces, or items, the virus can spread.

To lessen the possibility of the infection spreading:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • When you cough or sneeze, use tissues to catch any germs. Throw away soiled tissues as soon as you can.

A virus known as parvovirus B19 is the cause of slapped cheek syndrome. This is discovered in the droplets that an infected person coughs and sneezes out. The virus spreads similarly to how colds and the flu do.

How to check if you have Slapped Cheek Disease?

Slapped cheek syndrome manifests as a few days of feeling under the weather.

Some signs might be:

  • Elevated temperature
  • A headache, a sore throat, and a runny nose



The rash usually appears as a bright red scald on one or both cheeks. The cheek(s) appear to have been smacked. Sometimes all that is visible on the face is a blotchy redness. The rash does not hurt.

On the torso, arms, and legs, a fainter rash can occasionally develop more widely. On occasion, the rash on the body and face keeps dissipating and reappearing repeatedly for up to a few weeks. The rash comes and goes entirely in a few days, though.

Additional signs

Although the rash might appear extremely striking, the sickness is typically not severe. Usually, you will not feel too sick. You can get a moderate temperature (fever), headache, sore throat, runny nose, or other symptoms for a few days and take place 7–10 days prior to the rash's appearance. Occasionally, one or more joints experience short-term moderate discomfort and stiffness. Adults are more likely than children to experience this.

You may be symptom-free. One in four individuals who have this virus or bacteria show no symptoms at all. Without visible rashes, some people just have a fever and feel generally ill.

The first signs might resemble a cold and include:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Strained muscles
  • Coughing, sneezing, a runny nose, a sore throat, and a headache.

The rash on the face starts to develop as these cold-like symptoms start to get better. This rash is vividly coloured, "lacy" (with patches of skin with a normal colour among the red parts), and itchy quite frequently. After a few days, the person can also have a pink, blotchy rash on their limbs or body. Up to 20% of those who have the virus experience no symptoms at all.

Teenagers' and adults' slapped cheek illness symptoms

In teens and adults with slapped cheek illness, swelling in the ankle, knee, and wrist joints is a typical sign of arthritis. This problem is more frequent. In female adults and teens, occasionally it is the sole sign of infection.

It often takes the joints two to four weeks to recover. Yet, the swelling might persist for months in some people. Unlike actual arthritis, even if the afflicted joints are affected for a long period, there is little risk of long-term harm.


There is neither a vaccination nor a cure for slapped cheek sickness. Regular hand washing lowers the possibility of spreading slapped cheek sickness to others.

Even if you have slapped cheek illness, you can still go to work or school because you are only contagious (infectious) before the rash appears. Individuals infected with parvovirus B19 are deemed non-infectious one day after the rash appears.


Most of the time, you do not require any therapy. Pain relievers like paracetamol or ibuprofen will assist if you have a headache, a high temperature (fever), or aches and pains.

Those who experience problems, which is extremely unusual, could need further care.

Complications of Slapped Cheek Disease

The symptoms of an aching joint linger for a while after the other symptoms have subsided.

The sickness can only get worse under the following circumstances:

  • When it comes to children who have certain genetic anaemias including sickle cell disease, beta-thalassemia, and hereditary spherocytosis. Several anaemias have the potential to quickly worsen due to this germ (virus).
  • In those with compromised immune systems. You may get a more severe disease from this infection if you have HIV infection, leukemia, cancer, or have had an organ transplant.


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Page last reviewed: Apr 25, 2023

Next review due: Apr 25, 2025

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