Slapped cheek disease is a mild, self-limiting viral illness that is caused by the parvovirus B19. It affects children primarily and can, not so commonly affect teens and adults also. Now, once infected with the virus, the person develops antibodies, giving a lifetime immunity, where the child cannot get this illness again.
In terms of symptoms, some kids may have no symptoms at all, when infected with this virus. Others may present with a mild illness like cough and runny nose, a fever or a headache. The symptoms will last for a few days only, without causing much discomfort to the child. Now, one to two weeks after these initial symptoms have subsided, a typical rash can appear. Now, when the rash appears, the child has no fever and is not contagious anymore. These rashes appear first on both the cheeks. They are bright and red, large patches that is warm to touch. This is a classic slapped cheek appearance. The following day, the rash can spread to the exodermis where the rash is lacey in pattern. In the next day or so, the rash can spread to the buttocks and to the trunk. The rashes can resolve in 3-7 days or it can appear or disappear over 1-3 weeks where exposure to sunlight or heat can exacerbate this rash.
This illness is diagnosed clinically by your doctor when the characteristic rash appears. There is no treatment required as it is viral and usually gets better on its own. Paracetamol can be given during the fever. Now, it is usually a bodine infection in an otherwise healthy child. In can pose a problem for some children who have underlying medical conditions such as, certain types of hereditary anemia, where this infection can make the anemia far worse. If they have a compromised immune system, like HIV or cancer, or they are undergoing chemotherapy. Here, the infection can be severe and lead to serious complications. Now, pregnant women who have not had this infection before, can be in trouble as it puts them at risk for miscarriage or defects in the unborn child, when exposed to an infected person.
Team Ovum Hospitals