What is erythema infectiosum (fifth disease)?

Updated: Mar 06, 2020
  • Author: Glenn L Zellman, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Erythema infectiosum (also known as fifth disease) is usually a benign childhood condition characterized by a classic slapped-cheek appearance and lacy exanthem. [1] It results from infection with human parvovirus (PV) B19, an erythrovirus. Human PV-B19 also is associated with other hematologic, rheumatologic, and neurologic conditions, including polyarthropathy, aplastic anemia, and hydrops fetalis. (See Etiology, Pathophysiology, and History and Physical Examination.)

In erythema infectiosum, a classic 3-phased cutaneous eruption follows a rarely noticed prodrome (see the image below). [9]

Classic slapped-cheek appearance of fifth disease. Classic slapped-cheek appearance of fifth disease.

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