Slapped Cheek/Fifth Disease in Babies

Slapped Cheek Syndrome, or Fifth Disease as it is also known, gets its name from the bright red patch that appears on the child’s cheeks and from the fact that it is the fifth most common disease in children. The rash may spread across the body as well as the face. Other symptoms include a high temperature, itchy skin, fatigue, headaches and a sore throat. These are all symptoms that could appear with any viral illness, it is the bright red rash on the face that is the tell-tale sign of Slapped Cheek.

The virus is particularly contagious, spreading easily in groups of children such as schools and nurseries. It is most contagious just before any symptoms appear so it can be difficult to avoid, especially as the early symptoms are the same as many other viral illnesses, including flu. It can be difficult to establish whether or not you or your child has been exposed to the illness.

Is it Serious?

Slapped Cheek is a common viral illness and your child should recover fully quite quickly. Have your doctor check out your child’s symptoms to confirm your suspicions. Your child may be unwell for a number of days with no rash, or the rash may seem to come on suddenly. As it fades, your child will feel more unwell but it should be gone within a week and your child will usually recover quickly. In rare cases, the illness persists, so if you feel the rash is not fading within a week, seek advice from your doctor.

Pregnant Women

Pregnant women should avoid contact with this illness as it does prevent a risk to the unborn child which can develop anaemia as a result. Likewise, those with a weakened immune system need to report being in contact with the disease to their doctor. Pregnant women in contact with those suffering from the illness should seek medical advice as soon as possible, remembering that the illness is most contagious before the symptoms develop so if your child has been in contact with a pregnant woman and goes on to develop Slapped Cheek Syndrome, make sure that the pregnant woman is aware and advise her to see the medical professional in charge of her care so that she can make sure she has not contracted the virus.


A viral illness, there is no cure for this illness. However you can give your child relief from the symptoms. Pain relief in the form of paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used when required and according to the dosage on the label or prescription. Your doctor may prescribe anti-histamines for children who are very distressed by the itching of the skin that the virus can cause. You can also use a soothing moisturizer to cool and calm the itchy skin to provide your child with some much-needed relief. Treat a temperature as you normally would and monitor it ? if you feel the child’s temperature is not coming down then seek medical attention.