Top 4 things you need to know about slapped cheek disease

Slapped cheek disease occurs following parvovirus B19 infection and is more common in children [1].

Although the disease is mostly mild and tends to go away on its own, it should be noted that some people may have a more severe form of the disease, such as those with weakened immune systems, those pregnant or those with blood problems. [1].

Keep reading this article to find out more slapped cheek diseaseto be better informed about this contagious condition!

Slapped cheek disease signs and symptoms

The first signs and symptoms usually appear between 4 and 14 days after parvovirus B19 infection. However, most of the symptoms are so mild that they go unnoticed or are associated with other minor health problems [2].

As the infection progresses, the following symptoms may be present:

  • fever, headache and stomach pain, these being the first symptoms associated with slapped cheek disease;

  • the appearance of red eczema on the cheeks, a symptom that appears a few days after infection;

  • the potential appearance of other eczema in different areas of the body, such as the trunk or upper and lower limbs;

  • eczema that comes and goes indefinitely [2].

As for adults, they may be asymptomatic or have specific symptoms such as joint pain or stiffness, without cheek eczema [3].

Method of diffusion

The virus that causes slapped cheek disease can survive in the saliva of infected people and on various surfaces. This means that the method of spreading the virus is through coughing, sneezing, simple conversation or contact with contaminated surfaces. [1].

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The problematic part of this condition is represented by the fact that the infected person can spread the virus to other people, only in the period before the appearance of the eczema on the cheeks. This means that the infected person cannot realize that they have fallen ill and cannot avoid contact with other people [1].

Diagnosis and treatment

Most of the time the family doctor can diagnose the disease only by looking at the eczema present on the cheeks and the presence of other symptoms similar to the flu or cold. In rarer cases, however, it may also ask for some laboratory tests, both to confirm the infection and to rule out other possible causes [4].

Since slapped cheek disease tends to go away on its own after a few weeks, your doctor may prescribe a treatment that focuses on relieving symptoms such as headache, fever, or joint pain. [4].

Complications associated with slap cheek disease

Most infected people recover completely without long-term problems. However, there are also cases where slapped cheeks can cause complications, such as:

  • anemia – which can occur because the virus, in some rare cases, can stop the creation of red blood cells. This is often temporary, but it can be serious for people with compromised immune systems or other specific conditions.

  • arthritis – tends to be present more among adults (80%) and less among children (10%). It is usually temporary and involves joint pain and inflammation. Symptoms tend to improve over time, but some cases may develop chronic arthritis or polyarthritis. Females have a higher risk than males [4].

Although slapped cheek disease can often be mild, especially among children, do not hesitate to see a specialist, especially if symptoms persist or are accompanied by other troubling changes.

References:

  1. “Symptoms and Treatments of Slapped Cheek Syndrome”. Diseases and conditions | NHS Inform, www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/slapped-cheek-syndrome. Access to data: 26.09.2022

  2. “The Royal Children’s Hospital of Melbourne.” The Royal Children’s Hospital of Melbourne, www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Slapped_cheek_fifth_disease/. Access to data: 26.09.2022

  3. “Fifth Disease (Slapped Cheek Disease).” Healthdirect, Healthdirect Australia, www.healthdirect.gov.au/fifth-disease. Access to data: 26.09.2022

  4. “Fifth disease: causes, symptoms, treatment, tests, healing”. Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15774-fifth-disease. Access to data: 26.09.2022


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