Roseola is a skin condition caused by a herpes virus. The condition typically includes a fever and rash.

Roseola is a viral infection that can affect children by the time they turn 2 years old.

Roseola is caused by infection with the herpes virus 6 or, less commonly, the herpes virus 7. Like other viral illnesses, Roseola spreads through contact with an infected person’s respiratory secretions or saliva. A child with Roseola is contagious even if there is no rash present.

Once your child is exposed, it can take up to two weeks to show any signs of illness.

Symptoms of Roseola

Roseola’s two most notable symptoms include a fever followed by a rash. An infected child usually develops a sudden, high fever (often greater than 103 F), with very few other symptoms. Because of the high fever, febrile seizures, or fever-related seizures, sometimes occur. Most Roseola fevers subside within 3-5 days. If your child’s fever goes beyond five days, contact your pediatrician immediately.

After the fever subsides, a rash usually (but not always) appears. The rash consists of many small pink spots or patches that are generally flat, but some may be raised. There may be a white ring around some of the spots. The rash usually starts on the chest, back and abdomen and then spreads to the neck and arms. Fortunately, the rash, which can last for several days, isn’t itchy or uncomfortable.

Your child might also experience:

  • Slight sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Mild diarrhea
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Treatment for Roseola

Like all viruses, Roseola cannot be treated with antibiotics. Instead, you should focus on treating symptoms while the disease runs its natural course. Most children are better within a week of the onset of symptoms. Aside from over-the-counter medications to reduce fever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), there is not much else that needs to be done to treat Roseola.

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  1. Mayo Clinic. Roseola
  2. National Institutes of Health. Roseola
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. Health Issues


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