Slapped Cheek

By John Murrihy | Posted: Thursday March 21, 2019

We have had a report of a student with Slapped Cheek.

Description & Symptoms

Slapped cheek is a viral illness that gets its name from the ‘slap like’ rash that appears on a child’s face. At first children may have symptoms of the common cold. This can be followed by the deep red rash on the face and a red lace-like rash on the body and limbs, which may be itchy.

Slapped cheek is a mild disease and most children will have only mild symptoms.

How is it spread?

Slapped cheek is spread by sneezing, coughing, kissing or close contact. Slapped cheek can spread rapidly through schools and is most common in winter and spring. Once a child is infected with the virus, the time until the symptoms appear is usually between 4 – 20 days. 

Infectious period

A child is infectious up to 5 to 6 days before the first symptoms appear. Once the rash appears the child is no longer infectious.

Slapped cheek is contagious before it is diagnosed and the rash appears. Excluding children with the condition from school will not prevent the spread of the disease. Affected children may remain at school if they are well.

Actions to take

  • Ensure children who are ‘unwell’ remain at home.
  • Make sure everyone’s hands are washed often with soap and warm water and are dried to help prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Do not share food, eating utensils and drink bottles.
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Pregnant parents or staff should consult their GP or midwife as it is possible to pass the infection on to the baby in the first half of the pregnancy.
  • Take your child to a GP if they have anaemia or a weakened immune system.

Treatment

  • There is no specific treatment or vaccine for slapped cheek. A child may have a low grade fever before the rash appears. 
  • Encourage small amounts of water, rest and use paracetamol to relieve fever. The application of an ice-cold flannel can relieve the discomfort of burning hot cheeks.

Call Healthline 0800 611 116 if you are unsure what you should do.