Roseola is a viral illness that results in a viral exanthem. Exanthem is another name for a rash or skin eruption. Roseola is a contagious disease marked by a high fever and a rash that develops as the fever resolves. The disease is also called roseola infantum, because it most commonly affects infants and older babies. Roseola is also called sixth disease.
Roseola is probably caused by more than one virus. The most common cause is human herpes virus 6 (HHV-6). Ninety percent of cases occur in children under 2 years. It occurs throughout the year.
It may take between five to 15 days for a child to develop symptoms of roseola after being exposed to the disease. A child is probably most contagious during the period of high fever, before the rash occurs. The following are the most common symptoms of roseola. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
High fever that starts abruptly and may reach 105 degrees F
Fever lasts three to five days and then abruptly goes away
Swelling of the eyelids
Rash (as the fever decreases, a pink rash, with either flat or raised lesions, starts to appear on the trunk and then spreads to the face, arms, and legs)
Swelling of lymph nodes
Febrile seizures are relatively common in children with roseola. Febrile seizures occur when a child's temperature rises rapidly. While febrile seizures are generally not harmful, they can be very scary. . As the child's temperature becomes high, there is a chance that the child will have a seizure.
The symptoms of roseola may resemble other skin conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.
Roseola is usually diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination of your child. The rash of roseola that follows a high fever is unique, and suggests the diagnosis simply on physical examination.
Specific treatment for roseola will be determined by your child's doctor based on:
Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
Extent of the disease
Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the disease
Your opinion or preference
The goal of treatment for roseola is to help decrease the severity of the symptoms. Since it is a viral infection, there is no cure for roseola. Treatment may include:
Increased fluid intake
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever (DO NOT GIVE ASPIRIN. Giving aspirin to children may cause a dangerous condition called Reye syndrome.)