Roseola

Definition

Roseola is a viral infection that commonly affects infants and young children. It involves a pinkish-red skin rash and high fever.

Causes

Roseola is common in children ages 3 months to 4 years, and most common in those ages 6 months to 1 year.

It is caused by a virus called human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), although similar syndromes are possible with other viruses.

Symptoms

The time between becoming infected and the beginning of symptoms (incubation period) is 5 to 15 days.

The first symptoms include:

About 2 to 4 days after becoming sick, the child's fever lowers and a rash appears. This rash most often:

The rash lasts from a few hours to 2 to 3 days. It usually does not itch.

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about the child's medical history. The child may have swollen lymph nodes in the neck or back of the scalp.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for roseola. The disease most often gets better on its own without complications.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and cool sponge baths can help reduce the fever. Some children may have seizures when they get a high fever. If this occurs, call your health care provider or go to the closest emergency room.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if your child:

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if your child has convulsions.

Prevention

Careful handwashing can help prevent the spread of the viruses that cause roseola.


Review Date: 7/10/2015
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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