Erythema Infectiosum – Causes and Symptoms of Erythema Infectiosum

Erythema infectiosum is a kind of skin infection in the face. It is also known as ‘slapped cheek syndrome’ or ‘fifth disease’. The infection then spreads to the arms, legs and trunk. This condition predominantly affects the children of ages 5 to 15. People of other ages are affected to some extent.

Erythema infectiosum in normal conditions is without any complexities and is uncontrollable. But in people who are immunocompetent, the infection may lead to serious complications and requires urgent medical attention.

Causes of Erythema Infectiosum
Erythema infectiosum is caused by a virus called parvovirus B19. The infection is air borne i.e the virus is transferred from one person to other by  air droplets from throat and nose. It is also transmitted through blood transfusions and from pregnant mother to fetus.

The infection occurs in cycles seasonally, at early spring or late winter. The incubation period is 4 to 20 days. The affected person cannot not tolerate to conditions such as direct exposure to sun-rays, bathing in hot water, friction or stress. Hence, the affected person should take proper care.

Symptoms of Erythema Infectiosum
The symptoms of erythema infectiosum vary greatly with the age. The common signs and symptoms of erythema infectiosum are:

  • Itching
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Fever
  • Sore throat

Facial rash – A red rash appears on the face on both cheeks. It eventually spreads to trunk, arms and legs. The rashes appear as slightly raised bumps on these areas. The rashes occur at the end of infection. The rashes become more and more visible when the skin is exposed to sun-rays.

Symptoms in adults –
Adults develop joint soreness that lasts for days to weeks. Joints of ankles, knees, wrists and hands are commonly affected. The other symptoms they develop are allergic reactions, hepatitis and rheumatic fever.

The effects remain only for shorter periods in children. The immunocompetent children, pregnant women and adults with serious complications are seriously affected and require medical supervision.

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