Roseola

(Exanthem Subitum; Roseola Infantum)

Definition

Roseola is a viral infection. It starts with a sudden, high fever. A rash follows.

Roseola

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Causes

Certain herpes viruses cause roseola. Children get it from the saliva of people who carry the infection. It can be spread by:

  • Kissing or other close contact
  • Droplets from coughs or sneezes

Risk Factors

Roseola is more common in children under 3 years old. The risk is higher among children in close contact.

Symptoms

Common symptoms are:

  • A sudden, high fever:
    • 103°F-105°F (39.4°C-40.5°C)—may cause seizures in some children
    • Lasts 3 to 5 days
  • A rose-colored rash:
    • Starts within 3 days after the fever
    • On the chest and belly first, then may spread
    • Lasts for a few hours to a few days
    • Does not itch
  • Other symptoms:
    • Swollen glands in the neck
    • Fussiness
    • Lack of hunger

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is enough to make the diagnosis.

Treatment

Roseola goes away on its own in a few days. The goal of treatment is to ease symptoms. The doctor may advise medicines to lower the child’s fever.

Note : Aspirin can be harmful to children who have or had a viral infection.

Prevention

The risk of roseola is lowered by having children:

  • Wash their hands often
  • Stay away from other children who have it

RESOURCES:

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
https://www.healthychildren.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca

References:

Ko H, Shin S, et al. Predicting factors of roseola infantum infected with human herpesvirus 6 from urinary tract infection. Child Kidney Dis 2016; 20(2): 69-73.
Roseola infantum. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/skin/Pages/Roseola-Infantum.aspx. Accessed February 1, 2021.
Roseola. Nemour Kids Health website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/roseola.html. Accessed February 1, 2021.
Roseola. Patient website. Available at: https://patient.info/health/viral-rashes/roseola. Accessed February 1, 2021.
Roseola infantum. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/roseola-infantum . Accessed February 1, 2021.
Last reviewed September 2020 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 2/1/2021

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