This is a viral infection caused by human herpesvirus type 6 (HHV6). It is a contagious illness that mostly affects infants and toddlers causing them to develop high fevers followed by the development of a rash.
Fever can be as high as 106 degrees and typically lasts for 3-5 days. The fever is not harmful to your child and will resolve with time.
During this time, your child may have less appetite, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and diarrhea.
When the fever fully resolves, they develop a hallmark rash on their body that looks like raised pink/red spots. The rash can spread from their chest, stomach and back to their arms and neck. Often the rash will look pretty crazy and worry parents, however the rash generally does not bother the child. The rash typically resolves after 24-48 hours.
Since Roseola is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not help treat this infection. The body will clear the infection on its own. You may give Tylenol and (if the child is older than 6 months) Ibuprofen to help treat fevers. Make sure your child stays hydrated by offering fluids frequently.
Roseola is contagious while your child is having fevers. Once the fever has been absent for 24 hours, your child is no longer considered contagious even if the rash is present.
Call your doctor if your child has:
- Fever that continues for >3 days (although Roseola fever can last up to 5 days, it is good practice to have any fever >3days evaluated to make sure it is not something more serious)
- Any signs of difficulty breathing, worsening cough, concerns for pneumonia
- Persistent vomiting, concerns for dehydration
- Seizure activity
- Any other signs or symptoms that are worsening or concerning to the parent