Roseola is an infection caused by a virus. It is characterized by a sudden onset of high fever followed by a rash. This disorder usually resolves on its own with no complications. Roseola can occur year round, but it is most common in the spring and fall.
Roseola is usually caused by a virus called human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6). It can also be caused by human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7). These viruses are not the same as the herpes viruses that cause cold sores or genital herpes.
Factors that increase the chance of roseola include:
Symptoms of roseola include the following:
The appearance of a rash after the fever disappears is the characteristic sign of roseola.
The doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The symptoms and physical findings of roseola are so distinctive that no other tests are usually needed. Often, there is a history of other children with roseola in the community.
No treatment is needed for roseola unless the child is immunocompromised. The most important treatment is to keep the fever down and maintain good hydration with fluids.
Discuss with your doctor how best to bring the fever down including:
Call your doctor if your child has a seizure and/or the fever persists.
To help prevent the spread of roseola, avoid contact with an infected child when possible. The incubation period is 5-15 days. The virus is thought to be spread by contact with infected saliva, with adults forming the main reservoir. Carefully and frequently wash your hands to help prevent the spread of roseola.
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
About Kids Health
Alberta Health and Wellness
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ .
Kleigman RM, Jensen HB, Behrman RE, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.
The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy . 17th ed. Simon and Shuster; 1999.
The National Library of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/ .
The Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://www.nemours.org/index.html .
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 11/26/2012
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