In the past, there were 6 known childhood infections causing a rash. The 'fifth' disease is now also called Slapped Cheek Syndrome and the 'sixth' disease is known as Roseola Infantum.
These viral diseases are still common today and nearly all children get infected at some time. The only treatment required is fluids, paracetamol and rest.
Slapped Cheek Syndrome
A bright red rash on the face, as if it has been slapped, is the main clue to this viral infection. It often begins with fever, aches and pains and feeling unwell. The rash on the cheeks follows and later spreads to the arms, legs and trunk, with a pink, lacy appearance. The rash lasts a few days but it may recur on and off for a few weeks.
The infection usually affects children from 4 to 10 years. It is highly contagious and outbreaks often occur in schools and child care centres. Children can return to school once the rash appears.
Although the infection is usually mild, it can be a danger in pregnancy, causing a small risk of miscarriage or damage to the baby. Seek medical advice if you are pregnant and exposed to the infection.
Sixth disease, or Roseola, usually infects younger children in the 6 month to 2 year age group. It may begin with a head cold, followed by a high fever lasting 1 to 3 days. As the temperature falls, a pink, spotty rash appears, mainly on the trunk and arms, lasting a couple of days.
Roseola is usually mild, but can cause febrile convulsions and rarely meningitis.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.