Roseola

Definition: Roseola is an acute disease of infants and young children in which a high fever and skin rash occur.

Causes: The disease 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.

Roseola occurs throughout the year. The time between becoming infected and the beginning of symptoms (incubation period) is 5 to 15 days. A fever lasting 3 (sometimes up to 7) days generally comes before the rash appears. The fever may be as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roseola begins with a high fever that generally responds well to acetaminophen (Tylenol). Between the 2nd and 4th day of illness, the fever falls dramatically, and a rash appears (often as the fever falls) on the trunk and spreads to the limbs, neck, and face. The rash lasts from a few hours to 2 days.

Symptoms: Irritability; Quick onset of high fever; Rash erupts on days 4 to 5 of the illness (the fever has usually gone away or is dropping by the time the rash appears)

Exams and Tests: Physical exam of rash; Swollen lymph nodes on the back of the scalp (occipital nodes)

Treatment: There is no specific treatment. The disease usually gets better without complications.  Take steps to control a fever with acetaminophen (Tylenol) and cool sponge baths. If convulsions occur, call your health care provider, or go to the closest emergency room.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most children with roseola fully recover.

Possible Complications: Aseptic meningitis (rare); Encephalitis (rare);Febrile seizure

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if your child's fever does not go down with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) and a warm bath, or if the child continues to appear very sick, or act irritable or lethargic.

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

Prevention: The viruses that cause roseola are spread either through fecal-oral contact or via airborne droplets. Careful handwashing can help prevent the spread of these