Slapped cheek syndrome: What is infectious condition that causes bright red cheeks?

Slapped cheek syndrome is caused by a virus, known as parvovirus B19.

It’s contagious, and can be caught from infected people by inhaling droplets from their sneezes or coughs, or by touching a contaminated surface or object, the NHS said.

Preventing the condition is particularly difficult, and there’s no current vaccine to prevent against it.

Those with the infection are most contagious before they develop any obvious symptoms.

The first sign of the infection are red marks on the face. The marks look like a reaction to being slapped on the cheek.

Other symptoms of the condition include a flat, or raised, red rash, which lasts between two and 39 days. The rash can be very itchy, and can appear most visible after warm baths, exercise or rubbing the skin gently.

Children are more likely to develop the condition, especially in the winter and spring months, but adults that work with children are also most likely to be exposed.

Symptoms of slapped cheek syndrome in adults include headaches, sore throat, muscle pain, joint pain, fever, and abdominal pain, according to webMD.

Patients don’t usually need to see their GP if they have slapped cheek syndrome, but you should seek medical advice if you’re pregnant and show symptoms.

Infection increases the risk of a miscarriage or stillbirth, the NHS advised.

You should also contact your doctor if you become infection, and have an outstanding blood disorder, including sickle cell anaemia or a weakened immune system. 

If you develop pale skin, severe shortness of breath, extreme tiredness or fainting, you should also see your doctor, all call NHS 111. These could be signs of severe anaemia.

The best way to ease symptoms is to rest, and drink plenty of fluids. Painkillers could help to reduce fever, headaches and joint pains.

Antihistamines could also help to reduce itchiness.

Once the rash has developed, there’s no need to stay away from school or work because other people can’t catch the infection by that point.



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