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(Exanthem Subitum; Roseola Infantum)
Roseola 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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Roseola 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.
Roseola may cause:
- 103°F to 105°F
- Begins suddenly and 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 days and 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
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. Usually other tests are not needed. Often, there is a history of other children with roseola in the community.
No 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.
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. 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