(Exanthem Subitum; Roseola Infantum)
Roseola is a viral infection. It starts with a sudden, high fever. A rash follows.
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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
Roseola is more common in children under 3 years old. The risk is higher among children in close contact.
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
- Swollen glands in the neck
- Lack of hunger
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.
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.
The risk of roseola is lowered by having children:
- Wash their hands often
- Stay away from other children who have it
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
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