Fifth disease treatment available online today

In order to treat your fifth disease, consult with one of our board-certified doctors online today to prescribe medication to help your rash or joint pain today. Get a new prescription to treat fifth disease or refill an existing prescriptions today.*

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Commonly affects children

Relief from runny nose and cold symptoms

Also known as slapped cheek disease

*Prescriptions are provided at the doctor’s discretion. Learn more about our controlled substances policy and how you can save up to 80% with our prescription discount card. PlushCare doctors cannot treat all cases of fifth disease. Our primary care physicians can conduct an initial evaluation of your symptoms, but may need to refer you to a specialist or for in-person treatment. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Learn about fifth disease

Fifth disease is a viral illness that commonly affects children. Also called slapped cheek disease or erythema infectiosum, fifth disease is caused by parvovirus B19.

The disease is marked by a bright red rash on the face, which often resembles a slapped cheek. After a few days, the rash appears on the trunk, arms, and legs. Most children recover from the disease within 1–3 weeks without any complications.

Fifth disease causes

  • Fifth disease is caused by parvovirus B19. The disease commonly affects preschoolers or school-age children during the spring.

    Fifth disease spreads through fluids in the nose or mouth when someone coughs or sneezes. According to the Arthritis Foundation, approximately 20 percent of people with parvovirus B19 don't experience symptoms. However, asymptomatic people can still pass the virus to others.

Fifth disease symptoms

In healthy children, the symptoms of fifth disease are usually mild. Fifth disease typically begins with cold symptoms, such as:

  • The "slapped cheek" rash usually starts on the face after the other symptoms have passed. Then, red blotches appear on the trunk, arms, and legs. As the rash disappears, it may start to look lacy.

    In some cases, the disease can cause other symptoms, including:

    In adults and older teens, joint swelling or pain (in the knees, hands, wrists, or ankles) may also be symptoms of fifth disease.

How to treat fifth disease

Fifth disease is a viral disease, so antibiotic treatment is not effective. Fifth disease usually causes mild symptoms that clear up on their own, and no treatment is required.

Most children with fifth disease just need to rest. After the cold symptoms disappear, they may experience mild discomfort and itchiness.

Fifth disease medications

  • Antihistamines

    If your child's rash is itchy, talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options. Your child's doctor may recommend antihistamines to reduce itching.

  • Acetaminophen

    If your child is experiencing joint pain and swelling, your healthcare provider may recommend acetaminophen. Do not give your child aspirin, as it can cause Reye's syndrome.

How to prevent fifth disease

There is no vaccine or medicine to prevent parvovirus B19 infection. However, you can take steps to reduce your risk of being infected or infecting others.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth

  • Avoid close contact with infected people

  • Stay home if you experience cold- or flu-like symptoms

When to see a doctor for fifth disease

Talk to your healthcare provider if your child develops a rash, especially if they experience cold symptoms, fever, or joint pain.

If you're pregnant and develop a rash or if you've been exposed to an infected person, call your healthcare provider.

Fifth disease treatment FAQs

  • What is the best treatment for fifth disease?

    The best treatment for fifth disease is usually rest. Most cases of the disease are mild and clear up on their own. Medication focuses on relieving symptoms, such as fever, itching, and joint pain.

  • Can adults get fifth disease?

    Yes, adults can become infected with the parvovirus B19 and develop fifth disease. Adults tend to experience flu-like symptoms, but rarely develop the "slapped cheek" rash. Compared to children, adults are more likely to develop joint pain.

  • How long does fifth disease last?

    Most cases of fifth disease last between 7 and 10 days. However, the disease can come and go for several weeks. As the rash starts to disappear, it may take on a lacy appearance.

    For adults who develop joint pain, the pain usually lasts 1–3 weeks, but it can last for months or longer. Most joint pain will go away on its own without any long-term complications.

  • Can you get fifth disease more than once?

    People who have "slapped cheek" disease typically become immune to human parvovirus B19. As a result, you're unlikely to get the disease more than once.

  • Why is it called fifth disease?

    Fifth disease, also called erythema infectiosum or slapped cheek disease, got its name because it was fifth in a list of historical classifications of common skin rash illnesses in younger children.

  • Is 5th disease the same as Hand, Foot, and Mouth?

    No, fifth disease is not the same as hand, foot, and mouth disease. Unlike other viral rash diseases that can cause hand, foot, and mouth disease, fifth disease does not affect the palms and soles.

  • How long are you contagious with fifth disease?

    The incubation period of slapped cheek disease is 4–21 days. Most people experience rash and joint symptoms 2–3 weeks after the initial infection.

    An infected person is only contagious during the first stage of the illness. Once rash and joint symptoms develop, most people are no longer contagious.

  • Do you need to see a doctor for fifth disease?

    Yes, you should reach out to your healthcare provider if you think you have fifth disease, or if you've been exposed to the virus. Your doctor can diagnose the disease by examining the rash or administering a blood test to detect antibodies.

    Ask your healthcare provider about your treatment options if you have:

    • Severe joint pain

    • An itchy rash

    • A pregnancy

    • A weakened immune system

    • Sickle cell anemia

3 simple steps to request a consultation for fifth disease today

Step 1

Book a fifth disease consultation appointment.

Book a same day appointment from anywhere.

Step 2

Talk to your medical provider regarding your fifth disease symptoms.

Visit with a doctor on your smartphone or computer.

Step 3

If ordered, visit your lab for testing.

Our doctors can order testing to the lab nearest you.

Related conditions to fifth disease

  • Anemia

    For children with anemia, parvovirus B19 infection can cause severe anemia. The virus infects the blood cells that produce red blood cells, which can cause a temporary reduction in blood cell production. In some cases, children may require transfusions.

    Acute Arthritis 

    According to the Arthritis Foundation, over 78 percent of adults experience painful joints after parvovirus B19 infection. Although joint symptoms typically resolve within several weeks, 10 percent of adults experience chronic pain, which can last up to 9 years.

Fifth disease consultation pricing details

How pricing works

To request a fifth disease consultation and discuss treatment options with one of our doctors, join our monthly membership and get discounted visits

Paying with insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price with insurance

Often the same as an office visit. Most patients with in-network insurance pay $30 or less!

  • We accept these insurance plans and many more:

    • Humana
    • Aetna
    • Cigna

Paying without insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price without insurance

Initial visits are $129.

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If we're unable to treat you, we'll provide a full refund.


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PlushCare content is reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals. Learn more about our editorial standards and meet the medical team. The PlushCare site or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.