Brazilian Natural Medicine

Erythema infectiosum: symptoms and treatment of “Slap disease”

Erythema infectiosum, also popularly known as slap disease or slap syndrome, is an infection of the airways and lungs, which is very common in children up to 15 years of age and causes the appearance of red spots on the face, as if the child had received a slap.

This infection is caused by the virus parvovirus B19 and, therefore, can also be scientifically known as parvovirus. Although it can happen at any time, erythema infectiosum is more common in winter and early spring, especially due to its form of transmission, which happens mainly through coughing and sneezing.

Erythema infectiosum is curable and treatment usually includes only resting at home and correct hydration with water. However, if there is a fever, it is important to consult a general practitioner or a pediatrician, in the case of children, to start using medication to reduce body temperature, such as Paracetamol, for example.

main symptoms

The first symptoms of erythema infectiosum are usually:

  • Fever above 38ºC;
  • Headache;
  • Coryza;
  • General malaise.

Since these symptoms are not very specific and appear in winter, they are often confused with the flu and, therefore, it is relatively common that the doctor does not give much importance at first.

However, after 7 to 10 days, the child with infective erythema develops the characteristic red spot on the face, which ends up facilitating the diagnosis. This spot is bright red or slightly pink and mainly affects the cheeks on the face, although it can also appear on the arms, chest, thighs or butt.

In adults, the appearance of the red spot on the skin is rarer, but joint pain is common, especially in the hands, wrists, knees or ankles.

How to confirm the diagnosis

Most of the time, the doctor can make the diagnosis only by observing the signs of the disease and evaluating the symptoms that the person or child can describe. However, as the first signs are not specific, it may be necessary to develop a spot on the skin or joint pain to confirm the diagnosis of erythema infectiosum.

However, if there is a high suspicion of infection, the doctor may also order, in some cases, a blood test, to identify if there is the presence of specific antibodies for the disease in the blood. If this result is positive, it indicates that the person actually has erythema infectiosum.

How does the transmission happen?

Erythema infectiosum is quite contagious, as the virus can be transmitted through saliva. In this way, it is possible to catch the disease if you are close to an infected person or child, especially when you cough, sneeze or release saliva when talking, for example.

In addition, sharing utensils, such as cutlery or cups, can also lead a person to develop erythema infectiosum, as simple contact with infected saliva also transmits the virus.

However, this transmission of the virus only happens in the first days of the disease, when the immune system has not yet managed to control the viral load. So when the characteristic spot appears on the skin, the person is usually no longer transmitting the disease and can go back to work or school if they feel well.

How is the treatment done?

In most cases, no specific treatment is necessary, as there is no anti-virus capable of eliminating the parvovirus and the immune system itself manages to eliminate it completely after a few days.

Thus, the ideal is for the person with the infection to rest to avoid excessive fatigue and facilitate the functioning of the immune system, as well as maintain adequate hydration, with fluid intake during the day.

However, as the infection can cause a lot of discomfort, especially in children, it is usually advised to consult a general practitioner or pediatrician to start treatment with pain relievers such as Paracetamol.

Always consult a doctor.

Verified by RJ985 – Brazilian natural medicine CMIO.org

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