Sixth disease in the newborn: tips for mom and dad

It is very common and fortunately is not associated with serious consequences. But how to manage it? Here’s how to behave when a newborn gets sick

The sixth disease is an exanthematous pathology. As well as measles, chickenpox, rubella and infectious erythema (fifth disease), the sixth disease is also a viral infection. The microorganism responsible belongs to the large family of Herpes viruses: there are 8 of them capable of infecting humans, causing various diseases. Let’s see some examples in the following table.

Illness Virus
Sixth disease Human herpes virus 6B (HHV-6B)
Chickenpox Human herpes virus 3 (HHV-3), also called Varicella zoster
Sores Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1)
Genital herpes Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2)

Very widespread, the sixth disease generally resolves on its own without leaving consequences.

For this reason, even when a newborn is affected, it is not necessary to panic: the problem gives complications only in very rare cases (generally in children with compromised immune defenses).

In reality, the risk of a newborn being affected by this infection is not very high. In fact, very young children are generally protected by the antibodies they have received from their mother, which however tend to decrease with each passing day.

Between 6 months and 2 years of life the probability of finding themselves struggling with the sixth disease is higher, and the child may find himself struggling with high fever (sometimes even above 40 ° C) accompanied, in some cases, by flu-like symptoms. At a later stage, an exanthema may appear formed by small reddish, flat papules, concentrated mainly at the level of the trunk.

What to do

Like most viral infections, the sixth disease must also run its course. Usually the fever wears off already on the fourth day, and usually even the rash lasts a maximum of a couple of days. Once the temperature has decreased, the baby will feel better despite the rash.

As always, in the presence of fever or skin rashes in a newborn it is good to ask the pediatrician for advice on what to do, avoiding administering over-the-counter drugs to the child without first asking his opinion. Waiting for the appointment set with the doctor the little drink a lot and rest, perhaps trying to alleviate the discomfort generated by fever with sponges of warm water or fresh compresses.

Once at the pediatrician, to facilitate the diagnosis it is important to describe well the symptoms from which the child suffers and specify how long they have been present, if the newborn has been in contact with children recently recovered from a fever or skin rashes and if he has recently taken medication.

At the same time, mom and dad must feel free to ask the doctor any questions about the sixth disease. For example, it may be useful to ask him how to manage the child’s fever, how long improvements should be expected and how long the sixth disease is contagious.

After diagnosis

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, all that remains is to wait for the sixth disease to resolve. In the meantime it is important that the baby rests, remaining in his bed until the fever has decreased.

It is important to make him drink a lot and try to refresh it with warm sponges or with a cool cloth; Instead, cold water, ice, fans or cold baths should be avoided, which could trigger unwanted chills in the child.

As for the skin rash, unfortunately there is no specific treatment for sixth disease exanthema. Fortunately, however, it lasts only a few days and tends to resolve itself without creating particular problems.

If, while following the instructions of the pediatrician, the fever should continue for more than a week, if it should exceed 39.4 ° C and if the skin rash does not improve within a few days, it is advisable to contact the doctor again.

However, care is not everything, and even some pampering does not hurt. Once the fever has passed, mom or dad can entertain the newborn with activities that amuse both.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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