Daily Archives: January 14, 2011

She Says… Cherub Cheeks

When most people think of the perfect little angelic baby face, they picture rosy cheeks. But I’m beginning to wonder if Owen’s red cheeks are something more than just the flush of youth. Like, a rash.

For the last month or so (maybe longer?) Owen has had red cheeks. I think they started around the time that we had our first snow here in Boston, so I attributed the redness and chapped feeling to the cold air and wind when we go on our walks. I’ve been putting Aquaphor on them a few times a day since then. The redness hasn’t really gone away, even when we don’t go out in the cold for a few days. Still, I assumed it was just a normal baby thing. He’s been in good spirits and doesn’t seem to mind, so I didn’t think anything of it.

Then right before Christmas he started this habit of scratching at his face. I honestly thought it was just him exploring his face (Oh, I have a face? THAT’S what this thing is?). And maybe it is. But he started scratching at his face during naptimes and at night (times when I couldn’t distract him or move his hands away) so much that he would wake up with little scabs from where he scratched himself raw. I kept his fingernails as short as possible but he still finds a way to wake up with scratches all over his face. He also started scratching at one ear, usually when he drank his bottle. It didn’t really seem like a purposeful scratch, more like a background thing like twirling your hair. Still, I considered that it was an ear infection and looked for other signs (fever, irritability, blah blah). Nada. He seemed happy enough, just red. And bumpy.  Currently he has a little runny nose, but I really have no idea if it’s related.

Then today I got an email from a friend who I met in our mom group a few months ago. She said that her son has had red cheeks for a few weeks and a doctor just diagnosed him with Fifth Disease. Apparently this is a virus that kids get. It’s not a big deal and often goes unnoticed. It doesn’t require much treatment, from what I’ve read, but some topical cream might be helpful if he’s itchy. She presumes that her son got it from the place where we did our moms groups, which means Owen easily could have picked it up the same way. Sounds like it’s contagious very early on before the rash shows up, so we wouldn’t have known anything about it at the time.

It’s hard to tell the difference between cherub cheeks and virus cheeks, eh? Look at my cute little guy.

You can see the red patches on his cheeks, and a week or two ago I noticed some bumps on his arms. Apparently if it is this virus, and not just chapped cheeks from the cold air, it will probably spread to other parts of his body and then go away.

I feel a little bad that I just wrote his redness off as a side effect of the winter wind and didn’t consider that his scratching at his face was anything more than a new habit. I guess it’s good to be calm and not freak out at every little thing, but it still feels like maybe I should have asked a doctor a few weeks ago when it began.

Ummm, oops. Live and learn, I guess.

He has his 6 month check up on the 24th so provided nothing gets worse before then I will wait and ask the doctor at that point.

Anyone out there experienced Fifth disease? Any thoughts on whether the cheeks in question look more like normal baby cheeks or something more sinister?