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(Exanthem Subitum; Roseola Infantum)
  • Definition

    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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  • Causes

    Roseola 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 Factors

    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.
  • Symptoms

    Roseola may cause:
    • Fever
      • 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
      • Rose-colored
      • 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
      • Irritability
      • 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.
  • Diagnosis

    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.
  • Treatment

    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.
  • Prevention

    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


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    Roseola infantum. American Academy of Pediatricians Healthy Children website. Available at: Updated May 11, 2013. Accessed August 5, 2013.

    Roseola. Nemours' Kids Health website. Available at: Updated July 2012. Accessed August 5, 2013.

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