Children's Health and Wellness

Roseola

What is roseola?

Roseola is a contagious viral illness that results a high fever and a rash that develops as the fever resolves. The disease is also called roseola infantum or sixth disease. It because it most commonly affects children under 2 years of age. .

What are the symptoms of roseola?

It may take between 5 to 15 days for a child to develop symptoms of roseola after being exposed to the virus. A child is probably most contagious during the period of high fever, before the rash occurs. The following are the most common symptoms of roseola:

  • High fever that starts suddenly

  • Fever may reach 105°F 

  • Fever lasts 3 to 5 days and then abruptly goes away 

  • Irritability

  • Swelling of the eyelids

  • Rash (as the fever decreases, a pink rash, with either flat or raised rash, starts to appear on the abdomen and then spreads to the face, arms, and legs)

  • Swollen glands

  • Ear pain

  • Decreased appetite

Febrile seizures are relatively common in children with roseola. Febrile seizures occur when a child's temperature rises rapidly. While febrile seizures are generally not harmful, they can be very scary. Not every child with a high temperature is at risk for a febrile seizure. Febrile seizures occur in about 3% of children under the age of 5 and may run in families.

The symptoms of roseola may look like other skin conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is roseola diagnosed?

Roseola is usually diagnosed based on a medical history and physical exam of your child. The rash of roseola that follows a high fever is unique to roseola.

What is the treatment for roseola?

The goal of treatment for roseola is to help decrease the severity of the symptoms. Since it is a viral infection, there is no cure for roseola. Treatment may include:

  • Increased fluid intake

  • Dress child with fever in light clothing

  • Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever (Do not give aspirin. Giving aspirin to children may cause a dangerous condition called Reye syndrome.)

Print Source: Up To Date. Roseola infantum (exanthem subitum)
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatrics. Roseola Infantumhttp://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/skin/pages/Roseola-Infantum.aspx
Online Editor: Metzger, Geri
Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 9/3/2014
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