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Roseola is a viral infection that usually affects children and toddlers. This illness - caused by the human herpes virus 6 and 7- is highly contagious and very common among young children, although adults can be infected by it, too. The virus is spread through saliva droplets that leave the mouth and nose when an individual speaks, sneezes, or coughs. Most children will experience roseola before kindergarten, but the body is usually able to develop immunity to the virus after having it once.
Symptoms of roseola will begin to appear after a week or two of contact with the virus.
- Fever: Roseola may start with a very high fever - often above 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Fever symptoms will be present for 3-7 days before subsiding.
- Rash: In some cases, a rash will appear once the fever has gone away. The rash is made up of small, pink spots on the stomach, chest, and back, although it may also spread to the legs and arms. The rash isn’t itchy or painful but may last for several days.
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Upset stomach and diarrhea
- Swelling (usually in the eyelids or lymph nodes)
Roseola is usually non-contagious after fever symptoms have been absent for 24 hours or more, even if a rash is still present.
Roseola infections are relatively mild and rarely cause serious complications. Individuals with a weakened immune system may be at risk of developing severe reactions caused by the viral infection.
Additionally, some children may experience seizures caused by a sudden spike in body temperature. These seizures are known as febrile seizures. Febrile seizures are common - nearly 10-15% of children who contract roseola experience seizures - and short-lived. If your child experiences a seizure caused by roseola, seek medical help immediately.
Because roseola is a viral infection, antibiotics are ineffective as a treatment. Below are common treatment options for roseola. During your appointment, talk to your health care provider about the treatment plan that is right for you or your child.