Roseola Symptoms and Treatment

Roseola (meaning rose rash) or Roseola infantum (rose rash of infants) or Exanthema subitum (due to the pinkish red appearance of the rashes) is a non-contagious, viral disease of the young, marked by high fever and skin rashes. Those affected, mostly include infants and young children aged 3 months to 4 years (although the disease is more common in children of ages 6 months to 1 year). The disease is caused due to an infection from the virus called HHV- 6 (Human Herpesvirus 6) and HHV – 7 (Human Herpesvirus 7), collectively called the Roseolovirus. Roseolovirus mostly transfer from one person to another through oral secretions (fecal-oral contact or via airborne droplets).

Roseola may occur throughout the year without any seasonal variation. Also, the disease is often confused with measles or the three-day fever.

Symptoms of Roseola

The time between the attack of the virus and the appearance of symptoms (incubation period) is 5 to 15 days.

The signs and symptoms of Roseola primarily depend upon the age of the patient. Typically the disease begins with the onset of a sudden high fever ranging between 39 – 40 °C (102.2 – 104 °F). In some rare cases, this can also cause fever fits (also called as febrile convulsions or febrile seizures) due to the sudden rise in body temperature. Fever fits are common in children aged between 18 months to 3 years. Once the fever subsides, red colored rashes start to appear. The rashes first show up on the trunk and further spread to the legs, the back and the neck. The rashes are pink to reddish in color and appear as small, slightly raised (papules) or flat (macular) sores on the skin of the patient which gets blanched due to pressure. The rashes are seldom itchy and may last for 1 to 2 days in duration.

In rare cases of adults affected with Roseola, signs of mononucleosis have been noticed. Other symptoms of Roseola include irritability, lethargy, running nose, sore throat, bulging soft spot on the head (fontanel) red and puffy eyes, mild diarrhea and swollen lymph nodes on the neck (called as the cervical nodes) and at the back of the scalp (called as the occipital nodes).

Some common complications after the offset of Roseola include Aseptic meningitis and Encephalitis.

Treatment for Roseola

There is no specific vaccine against or for the treatment of Roseola. Over the counter drugs like Paracetamol or acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) are usually prescribed to reduce temperature. Asprin is avoided due to its ability to cause Reye’s Syndrome under the conditions of Roseola.

Cool or tepid water sponge baths and drinking plenty of water is also advised as home remedies. However, in case of febrile convulsions, a physician must be consulted at the earliest possible for immediate prescription of anti convulsant medication.


Regular washing of hands and maintain cleanliness in the surroundings can help prevent the spread of this disease causing virus.

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