(Exanthem Subitum; Roseola Infantum)
DefinitionRoseola is an infection characterized by a sudden onset of high fever followed by a rash. The infection usually ends on its own without complications.
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CausesRoseola is usually caused by a specific herpes viruses. These viruses are not the same as the herpes viruses that cause cold sores or genital herpes .
Risk FactorsRoseola is more common in children aged 6 months to 3 years (6-15 months is most common), and during the spring and fall months. Contact with an infected child is rarely reported.
SymptomsRoseola may cause:
- 103°F to 105°F
- Begins suddenlyand is not associated with other symptoms
- Lasts 3 days,sometimes a day or two longer
- Convulsions may occur in association with high fever in up to 5% to 10% of children
- A rash that develops 12-24 hours after the fever
- Appears on the chest and abdomen first
- May spread to arms, legs, neck, and face
- Lasts for a few hours to a few daysand does not itch
- Other symptoms or signs may include:
- Swelling of lymph nodes in the neck and behind the ears
- Poor appetite
- Upper respiratory tract infection symptoms that may occur before the fever
DiagnosisThe doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Usually other tests are not needed. Often, there is a history of other children with roseola in the community.
TreatmentNo treatment is needed for roseola unless the child has a weakened immune system. The most important treatment is to keep the fever down and drink plenty of fluids.Talk to your doctor about how to bring the fever down through:
- Medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Lukewarm sponge baths
- Plenty of fluids
- Note : Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.
PreventionTo 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. Carefully and frequently wash your hands to help prevent the spread of roseola.
Family Doctor - American Academy of Family Physicians
Healthy Children - American Academy of Pediatrics
About Kids Health
Roseola infantum. American Academy of Pediatricians Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/skin/Pages/Roseola-Infantum.aspx. Updated May 11, 2013. Accessed August 5, 2013.
Roseola. Nemours' Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/skin/roseola.html. Updated July 2012. Accessed August 5, 2013.
- Reviewer: David L. Horn, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 05/2014
- Update Date: 06/20/2014
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