Fifth Disease | Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of fifth disease?

The most common symptom of fifth disease is a bright red raised rash that appears first on the face, and then (a day later) on the arms, legs and trunk of the body. Children may have mild flu-like or cold-like symptoms before the rash surfaces, such as a low fever, sore throat and headache.

Adults who catch the virus usually don't develop the rash. Instead, they are more likely to experience joint pain or swelling, usually of the hands, wrists, knees and ankles. This can last several months, but usually resolves after 1 to 2 weeks. However, some adults may not experience any symptoms.

Symptoms usually show up about 4 to 14 days after exposure, although the rash may not appear for as long as 3 weeks. About 20% of people infected have no symptoms. Others may have some symptoms that don’t match the typical fifth disease symptoms.

The rash of fifth disease usually goes away within 2 weeks. It fades from the center outward, making it look blotchy or “lacy.” But it may return for several weeks, triggered by sunlight, heat, exercise, fever or stress.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 08/09

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