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Slapped Cheek Syndrome: Important Facts about This Viral Infection

Slapped Cheek Syndrome: Important Facts about This Viral Infection

Also known as Parvovirus B19 or Fifth Disease, slapped cheek syndrome is a viral infection that can affect people across ages. However, it is more common among children than adults, slapped cheek syndrome often causes a bright red rash all over the body, especially on the cheeks.

Other common symptoms of the condition include muscle pain, joint pain, tiredness, slight fever, runny nose, and sore throat. The disease is more serious among adults who contract it. It especially creates complications among adults in certain conditions like pregnancy, weak immune system, and blood disorder.

This condition mostly occurs during spring and among children between five and 14 years of age, specifically between five and seven years of age. It generally occurs only once, after which the infected individual becomes immune to it.

How Do You Get Slapped Cheek Syndrome?

Parvovirus B19 is the name of the virus that causes the disease. Droplets in coughs and sneezes of infected people are found to contain this virus.

It is contagious in nature, which means that the virus can spread to people who come in close proximity to the infected person. Just like cold and flu, the virus is easily spread from one person to another. Causes that have the potential to infect you include:

  • Sub-consciously inhaling droplets of coughs or sneezes of an infected person;
  • Being exposed to or touching a contaminated surface or object, and subsequently, touching your nose or your mouth;
  • Being infected before the time rashes develop in an infected person. Once the rash shows up, the condition is not contagious any longer.

How is Slapped Cheek Syndrome Diagnosed?

The fifth disease is easily diagnosed with the help of history and physical examination. The condition is also diagnosed with the help of a blood test. However, you usually need not undergo any medical test.

What to Do When You Suffer From Slapped Cheek Syndrome

As a mild infection, slapped cheek syndrome often gets cured within three weeks, without any serious medical treatment.

If you or your child show any typical symptoms associated with the syndrome, you can alleviate them by trying these following recommendations:

  • Rest and drink a lot of fluids. Babies ought to maintain their normal feedings;
  • For joint aches, headaches or fever, here are some recommended painkillers: ibuprofen or paracetamol. Refrain from giving aspirin to children below 16 years of age;
  • Antihistamines or emollient are recommended to control itchiness in adults. However, antihistamines are not advisable for children. Therefore, what you need to do first is to consult your pharmacist or doctor.

Prevention Tips

Slapped cheek syndrome is a challenge to diagnose. It is not only highly contagious, but people with the infection do not show any clear symptoms of the medical condition.

However, some precautions, such as a healthy diet, adequate rest, and proper hydration, can be taken to prevent yourself from getting infected by this syndrome. Here are some precautions that you can undertake:

  • The infection can be effectively prevented from spreading by having everyone in your family get their hands washed regularly;
  • Do not share bottles or plates and bowls that are used for eating;
  • Clean and disinfect toys that usually come in contact with kids’ mouths;

Since this virus can easily spread indoors, it is suggested that you let your children play outside frequently.

Slapped cheek syndrome maybe a minor medical concern. However, as discussed earlier, it can get aggravated among adults, especially those with certain medical conditions. Being aware of the symptoms of the condition and consulting a doctor before the condition turns serious are the first steps towards treating it.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Jun 28, 2021
Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS