Understanding Fifth Disease -- Diagnosis & Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on April 25, 2023
2 min read

In most cases, fifth disease is diagnosed based on the appearance of typical symptoms.

A blood test can confirm whether you have fifth disease, but this usually is not necessary in healthy immunocompetent individuals.

If a pregnant woman has been exposed to fifth disease, they may be given a blood test to determine whether they have fifth disease in the past and is, therefore, immune.

If they contract fifth disease, either an amniocentesis or a test called percutaneous umbilical blood sampling (PUBS) can be used to test for the virus in the fetus and determine the severity of fetal anemia, if it exists.

Ultrasound can be used to look for complications in the fetus, such as abnormal pooling of fluid around the heart, lungs, or abdomen.

Generally, no treatment for fifth disease is necessary for otherwise healthy children and adults who get it. If the rash itches, an antihistamine can be used. For those with joint pain, especially in adults, anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibuprofen can be helpful.

Anyone who has sickle cell anemia, chronic anemia, or an impaired immune system can receive immunoglobulin by injection to fight off the virus. Some of these patients may also need transfusions of red blood cells.

Show Sources

American Academy of Pediatrics. 2003 Red Book Report on the Committee of Infectious Diseases (Amerian Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infections Diseases//Report of the Committee on Infections Diseases)

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