Pāpāringa kua pakia Slapped cheek

Slapped cheek is a viral infection caused by the parvovirus. It causes bright red cheeks and is most common in tamariki (children). Some adults can get slapped cheek.

Symptoms of slapped cheek

You usually get symptoms 4 to 20 days after being infected. Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • generally feeling unwell.

In adults, symptoms can also include swollen, painful joints. These symptoms last for 2 to 3 days.

After a couple of days, a bright red rash appears on both cheeks. You can then get a pink, lacy-looking rash on your body, arms and legs. The rash usually lasts for 2 weeks but can come and go for 6 weeks.

When the rash has appeared, you are no longer infectious, but you can pass slapped cheek on for 5 to 6 days before the rash appears.

Pictures of the rash — DermNet

If you are pregnant

If you catch slapped cheek during the first half of your pregnancy, there is a small risk of miscarriage. There is also a small risk of your pēpi (baby) getting anaemia from low iron levels.

Treating slapped cheek

Slapped cheek is usually a mild infection that clears up by itself.

The treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms. Rest and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. You can take paracetamol to help relieve the symptoms.

Getting help for slapped cheek

If you are pregnant and have caught slapped cheek during the first half of your pregnancy, see your healthcare provider.

You should also see your healthcare provider if you have a weakened immune system.

Avoiding the spread of slapped cheek

To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, it is important to have good hand hygiene. This includes washing your hands with soap and water, particularly after coughing or sneezing.

Clinical review

This content was written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. It has been adapted for Health Information and Services.

Clinical advisers — HealthInfo (external link)