What is roseola?
Roseola (roseola infantum) is a mild illness caused by a virus. It is generally harmless and often goes away with enough bed rest and medications. In very rare cases, it might result in a high fever, leading to complications.
How common is roseola?
Roseola is extremely common. It usually affect children from 6 months to 2 years of age. It is rare after age 4. Most children have been infected with roseola by the time they enter kindergarten. Sometimes, it might affect adults too. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of roseola?
Symptoms of roseola often appear after a week or two after the infection. Sometimes they might not even appear at all or have very mild symptoms. Roseola symptoms may include:
- Fever. The most common symptom of roseola is a high fever that occurs suddenly. The fever is often greater than 39.4o In some children, other symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose or cough can occur along with fever. You might also notice their lymph nodes at their neck are swollen. The fever lasts three to five days.
- Rash. In most cases, a rash can follow when the fever subdue. Your child’s skin might have small pink spots or patches. These spots can be flat or raised. Some spots can have a white ring around them. The rash usually spread from the chest, back and abdomen to the neck and arms. It may or may not reach the legs and face. It often goes away after several hours to several days and won’t cause any discomfort to your child.
Other signs and symptoms of roseola may include:
- Irritability in infants and children;
- Mild diarrhea;
- Decreased appetite;
- Swollen eyelids.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if your child or you have any of the following:
- Your child has a fever greater than 39.4oC;
- Your child has roseola and the fever lasts more than seven days;
- The rash doesn’t improve after three days;
- If your immune system is compromised and you come in contact with someone who has roseola.
It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes roseola?
Roseola is a viral infection caused by the human herpes virus 6, or in some cases, by human herpes virus 7. The virus spread from person to person through physical contact with the sick person or their personal items that are infected with the virus. For example, a healthy child who shares a cup with a child who has roseola could contract the virus. It usually doesn’t cause a community wide spread.
Adults who never contracted roseola as children can become infected later in life, though the disease tends to be mild in healthy adults. Even if you don’t have any rash or just have a mild fever, there is still a risk of spreading the virus to your child and other family members from your respiratory secretions or saliva.
What increases my risk for roseola?
Older infants at kindergarten age are most vulnerable to roseola because their immune system is not fully developed yet. Moreover, being in a classroom environment can increase the risk of spreading the virus from child to child. The most common age for a child to contract roseola is between 6 and 15 months.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is roseola diagnosed?
Roseola is diagnosed through a medical history and physical exam. The doctor often knows it’s roseola if your child had a fever and the telltale rash or, in some cases, by a blood test to check for antibodies to roseola.
How is roseola treated?
Medications are used to control the high fever. Some common medications are acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) and ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin). You should also give you child a sponge bath to reduce the temperature. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor’s advice about what amount to give. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 years of age because of the risk of Reye syndrome.
If the symptoms are mild, roseola rash will go away without medical treatment.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help my child manage roseola?
If your child has roseola, the best thing to do is to give them plenty of bed rest at home. This will also avoid the chance of spreading the virus to other children.
If you have the virus or is taking care of your sick child, remember to wash your hands frequently to prevent spread of the virus to anyone who isn’t immune.
Encourage your child to drink clear fluids, such as water, ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, clear broth, or an electrolyte rehydration solution or sports drinks to prevent dehydration.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Roseola. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/roseola/basics/definition/con-20023511. Accessed August 12, 2016.
Roseola – topic overview. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/roseola-topic-overview#1. Accessed August 12, 2016.
Review Date: July 17, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019