Home Health Roseola: Facts and Symptoms

Roseola: Facts and Symptoms

by Juan D. Vanpelt

Roseola is a viral disease that most commonly affects young children between 6 months and two years. It is also known as exanthem subitum, the sixth illness, and roseola infantum. It is commonly characterized by elevated fever for several days, followed by a distinctive rash after fever breaks. Roseola, human herpesvirus (HHV) type 6 and type 7 may be caused by two common, closely related viruses. These viruses belong to the same family as the herpes simplex viruses (HSV) that are well known but do not cause the infections of cold sores and genital herpes that HSV can cause.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Roseola?

A moderate upper respiratory condition occurs in most children with Roseola, followed by a high fever (often greater than 103 ° F or 39.5 ° C) for up to a week. A child could be fussy or irritable during this period, not eat as much as normal, and may have swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck.

The high fever sometimes stops suddenly, and a flat or raised pinkish-red rash similar to symptoms of eczema on the trunk begins at around the same time. When touched, the rash spots turn white, and individual spots can have a lighter “halo” around them. As a general rule, the rash extends to the neck, face, arms, and legs.

In about 10 percent to 15 percent of young children who have Roseola, this fast-rising fever can cause febrile seizures (convulsions caused by high fevers). Signs of a seizure that is febrile include:

  • The Unconscious
  • 2 to 3 minutes of head, legs, or face jerking or twitching
  • Loss of bladder or bowel function

Is Roseola Contagious?

Roseola is contagious. The infection spreads when a child with roseola talks, sneezes, or coughs, sending tiny droplets into the air that others can breathe in. The droplets can also fall on surfaces; they can become contaminated if other children touch certain surfaces and then touch their noses or mouth.

During the fever process, Roseola can be infectious but does not spread when the rash breaks out.

Should we avoid Roseola?

No way to avoid Roseola is known. But since it affects young children rather than adults, it is assumed that a childhood bout of Roseola might provide some lasting immunity to the disease. Repeat roseola cases may occur but are rare.

How Long Is Roseola Lasting?

Roseola fever lasts for 3 to 7 days, followed by a rash that lasts for hours or days.

How Diagnosed Is Roseola?

A doctor can take a medical history and do an exam to make a diagnosis. Until the fever drops and the rash emerges, a diagnosis of Roseola is always unclear, so the doctor can order tests to ensure that some form of infection does not cause the fever.

How to Handle Roseola?

Professional medical care is typically not needed by Roseola. If it does, much of the care focuses on reducing elevated fever. Since viruses, not bacteria, cause it, antibiotics can’t cure Roseola.

How to Treat Roseola?

Professional medical care is typically not needed by Roseola. If it does, much of the care focuses on reducing elevated fever. Since viruses, not bacteria, cause it, antibiotics can’t cure Roseola.

Home Treatment

To relieve a fever, acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) can help. Never give aspirin to a child who has a viral disease since its use has been related to Reye syndrome in such situations, which may lead to liver failure and death.

Although some parents use sponge baths that are lukewarm to alleviate fever, there is no evidence that this works. Sponge baths can make kids uncomfortable. Never offer ice or cold bath or rubbing alcohol to your kids.

Encourage your child to drink clear liquids such as ice chip water and Pedialyte to avoid dehydration from fever (electrolyte oral replacement solution). Breast milk and formula can also aid in dehydration prevention.

When should I give the doctor a call?

If your child is lethargic or isn’t drinking or breastfeeding, call the doctor.

Get emergency treatment immediately if your child has a seizure.