Roseola (roseola infantum) is a mild illness caused by
virus. It is generally harmless and is most common in
children 6 months to 2 years of age. It is rare after age 4.
What causes roseola?
Roseola is caused by two
common viruses. The viruses belong to the family of herpes viruses, but they do
not cause the cold sores or genital infections that herpes simplex viruses can
cause. They are spread through tiny droplets of fluid from the nose and throat
of infected people when they laugh, talk, sneeze, or cough. Roseola mostly
spreads from infected people who don't show symptoms.
child has roseola, keep him or her at home until there has been no fever for 24
hours and he or she is feeling better.
What are the symptoms?
starts with a sudden high fever [103°F (39.4°C) to
105°F (40.6°C)] that lasts 2 to
3 days, although it can last up to 8 days. The rapid increase in temperature
may be the first sign of roseola and often occurs before you realize that your
child has a fever. The fever ends suddenly.
After the fever ends,
a rosy-pink rash may appear mostly on the trunk (torso), neck, and arms. The
rash is not itchy and may last 1 to 2 days.
In rare cases, a sore
throat, stomach ache, vomiting, and diarrhea occur.
A child with
roseola may appear fussy or irritable and may have a decreased appetite, but
most children behave almost normally.
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 now has a distinct rash.
How is it treated?
The roseola fever can be
managed with acetaminophen (such as Tylenol), ibuprofen (such as Advil or
Motrin), or sponge baths. 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
The roseola rash will go
away without medical treatment.
Should you worry if your child has roseola?
generally is a harmless viral infection. Like any illness that can cause a
fever, it can cause
fever seizures, which are uncontrolled muscle spasms
and unresponsiveness that last 1 to 3 minutes. The fever seizure is caused by
the rapid increase in temperature in a short period of time. After a fever has
reached a high temperature, the risk of a seizure is probably over.
Contact the doctor if:
Your child's rash gets
Symptoms (such as a fever, a general feeling of illness, or
signs of infection) are severe or become worse.
Symptoms become so
uncomfortable that your child cannot tolerate them.
A new rash
continues longer than 1 week.
A rash that has been previously
diagnosed continues longer than 4 weeks or is not following the expected
Your child's symptoms become more severe or more
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American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Human herpesvirus 6 (including roseola) and 7. In LK Pickering et al., eds., Red Book: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, 28th ed., pp. 378–379. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Belazarian L, et al. (2008). Human herpesvirus 6 and human herpesvirus 7 sections of Exanthematous viral diseases. In K Wolff et al., eds., Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1864–1866. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Cherry JD (2009). Roseola infantum (exanthem subitum). In RD Feigin et al., eds., Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 6th ed., vol. 1, pp. 780–784. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
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