Erythema infectiosum is a transmittable viral infection that results to elevated or blotchy reddened rash with mild illness.
The condition is brought about by the human parvovirus B19 and occurs mostly during the spring season, usually in geographically limited outbreaks among children especially school-age children. The infection spreads mainly by inhaling small droplets released by an infected individual. It can also spread from mother to fetus during pregnancy.
Indications of erythema infectiosum
The signs and symptoms of erythema infectiosum start about 4-14 days after being infected, but many children do not have any. Nevertheless, some have low fever and feel minimally sick with a headache and runny nose for a few days.
After several days, a child can develop reddened cheeks that often take on a slapped appearance especially the legs, arms and trunk but not on the soles or palms. The rash is usually itchy with elevated, blotchy reddened regions and lace-like patterns mainly on areas on the arms not enclosed by clothing since the rash can be aggravated by sunlight.
The rash typically lasts for 5-10 days. After several weeks, the rash might briefly reappear as a reaction to exercise, sunlight, fever, heat or emotional stress. Among adolescents, minor joint pain and swelling can linger or come and go for weeks up to months.
It is important to note that erythema infectiosum can also manifest in various ways especially among children with sickle cell disease or other conditions of the red blood cells or those who have conditions that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infection.
A diagnosis of erythema infectiosum is based on the characteristics of the rash. A blood test is also requested to identify the virus, but these are rarely done except on children who have a recognized blood disorder or an impaired immune system.
The treatment for the condition is focused on alleviating the symptoms.