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Fifth's disease

Fifth's disease is caused by a virus. Only rarely is it more serious. Fifth's disease most often occurs in elementary school children. Once your child gets fifth's disease, he most likely won't get it again.

Symptoms of fifth's disease are:

  • low-grade fever
  • fatigue
  • face rash that looks like "slapped cheeks"
  • a lacy rash on arms and legs that appears after the fever

The symptoms appear between 4 and 14 days after your child is exposed to the virus. The virus is not spread after the rash appears.

Antibiotics will not help treat fifth's disease. The virus will have to run its course.

When to call your health care provider

If you are pregnant, the risk to your unborn baby is slight. But, if you think you have been exposed to fifth's disease, call your health care provider.


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition

To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or she" and "him" or "her."

First published: 02/01/2010
Last updated: 01/01/2014

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic