What are the Symptoms of Fifth Disease, and How Can You Protect Your Toddler?Leave a Comment
Fifth disease developed its name when it was listed as number five on a list of six childhood illnesses that can cause a rash. It’s one of the most common illnesses that children of school-age can develop, but younger children can contract it too. Usually, cases of fifth disease increase in the winter and spring months, so it’s a good idea to check for symptoms around this time, and if you’re unsure, bring your toddler to see us at Pediatric Partners. We’ve put together a short guide to learn more about and help you identify the symptoms of Fifth Disease.
What Causes Fifth Disease?
A virus called Parvovirus B19 causes fifth disease. It’s an airborne virus that spreads when respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing pass into the air. This means that it’s especially prevalent in elementary schools and pre-schools and can be contagious. It’s a virus that rarely has long-lasting side effects, and, once infected, the body tends to produce antibodies that prevent the virus in the future.
Some of the earliest symptoms of fifth disease are fairly common and similar to most mild viral infections. Toddlers may start to exhibit a low-grade fever, a headache, tiredness, a sore throat, a runny nose, or nausea. These early symptoms are very similar to a normal, cold-like illness and are quite general. The symptoms may pass within a few days, so it can be tricky to determine whether a toddler has fifth disease or not at this stage. While a toddler has these symptoms or fifth disease, it’s recommended that you keep them away from other children, as this is when the virus is most contagious.
The rash that develops when a toddler has fifth disease is one of the most telling signs that your child has the illness. Older people can catch fifth disease and not suffer from rash-like symptoms; it tends to be children under 10 that develop a rash. The rash can occur straight away or it could take a few days to develop, after other symptoms have gone. The rash usually first appears on a toddler’s face, and they can develop bright-red cheeks, looking like they have a sunburn or reddened complexion. The rash can remain contained on the face for a few days, and then it will start to spread to a toddler’s arms, legs, and the trunk of their body. It’s unusual for the rash to spread to the soles of a toddler’s feet and the palms of their hands.
While your child has a rash, it is recommended that you try to keep them away from certain stimulus such as sunlight, heat, and exercise, and try to prevent them from feeling stressed. The rash can last for around three weeks, but by this time it’s not a contagious virus anymore and it will eventually fade away.
How to Prevent Fifth Disease
There is no vaccine for fifth disease, and it’s difficult to stop the virus from spreading. Practicing good hygiene methods and teaching your toddlers to wash their hands frequently is a way of helping to reduce their chances of catching fifth disease. As it’s an airborne disease, keeping your child away from someone you know who has fifth disease is a good idea.
For the majority of healthy children, the virus doesn’t require any treatment, since the symptoms of fifth disease usually fade over time as the body fights the virus. Doctors will be able to tell whether the rash is fifth disease almost immediately. However, if the early symptoms or the rash do not fade, then seek further medical attention. The same advice applies for joint pain and excessive itchiness where medication can be prescribed. It’s recommended that children get lots of rest and drink their fluids too.
If you’re ever unsure about the symptoms your toddler has and you need professional, expert advice, then come in to see us at Pediatric Partners. We’ll do all we can to make sure your toddler stays happy and healthy.