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A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M.; 2013.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Roseola

Exanthem subitum; Sixth disease

Last reviewed: August 22, 2013.

Roseola is a viral infection that commonly affects infants and young children. It involves a pinkish-red skin rash and high fever.

Causes

Roseola 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.

Symptoms

The time between becoming infected and the beginning of symptoms (incubation period) is 5 to 15 days.

The first symptoms include:

  • Eye redness
  • Irritability
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • High fever, that comes on quickly and may be as high as 105° Fahrenheit and can last 3 to 7 days

About 2 to 4 days after becoming sick, the child's fever lowers and a rash appears. This rash usually:

  • Starts on the middle of the body and spreads to the arms, legs, neck, and face.
  • Pink or rose-colored,
  • Has small sores that are slightly raised

The rash lasts from a few hours to 2 to 3 days. It usually does not itch.

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about the child's medical history. The child may have swollen lymph nodes in the neck or back of the scalp.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for roseola. The disease usually gets better on its own without complications.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and cool sponge baths can help reduce the fever. Some children may have seizures when they get high fevers. If this occurs, call your doctor or go to the closest emergency room.

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if your child:

  • Has a fever that does not go down with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) and a cool bath
  • Continues to appear very sick
  • Is irritable or seems extremely tired

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

Prevention

Careful handwashing can help prevent the spread of the viruses that cause roseola.

References

  1. Caserta MT. Roseola (Human Herpes Viruses 6 and 7). In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 248.

Review Date: 8/22/2013.

Reviewed by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

Figures

  • Roseola.
    Temperature measurement.

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