Roseola (roe-zee-OH-lah) is a mildly contagious illness caused by either one of two viruses. Roseola is typical of having a sudden onset and a relatively short duration.
Roseola is the most common virus in children under age 2, with an average age of 9 months. Less frequently, older children, teens, and (rarely) adults may be infected, it’s nothing to worry about, and kids get better on their own. It’s also sometimes called “sixth disease.”
When your child becomes exposed to someone with roseola and is infected with the virus, it usually takes one to two weeks to display signs and symptoms of the infection — if they do occur. Roseola can get infected but have signs and symptoms that are too mild to be readily visible. Symptoms of roseola may include:
- Fever: Usually, Roseola begins with a sudden; high fever-sometimes greater than 103 F (39.4 C). Many kids may also have a sore throat, runny nose, or cough along with or before the fever. Your baby, too, can develop swollen lymph nodes in his or her neck along with the fever. The fever lasts three to five days.
- Rash: A rash usually occurs after the fever subsides-but not always. The rash is made up of several tiny pink spots or patches. Usually, these spots are flat but some may be elevated. Many of the spots may have a white ring around them. Generally, the rash starts on the shoulders, back, and abdomen then spreads to the neck and arms. It may or may not reach the legs and face. The rash, which is not itchy or painful, will last between several hours and a few days before it fades.
Other signs and symptoms of roseola may include:
- Irritability in infants and children
- Mild diarrhoea
- Decreased appetite
- Swelling of the eyes
When to seek medical help?
Call the doctor if your child is lethargic or won’t drink or breastfeed. If your child has a seizure, get emergency care right away.
Children who are displaying the following signs and symptoms should also see a doctor:
- Fever Higher Than 103.0°F (39.4°C)
- Fever Lasting More Than A Week
- Rash That Persists Without Improvement For More Than 3 Days
Roseola is most commonly the product of type 6 human herpesvirus (HHV) exposure.
Another herpes virus, known as human herpes 7, can cause the disease too.
Roseola, like other viruses, spreads by tiny droplets of fluid, typically when someone coughs, speaks, or sneezes.
For roseola, the incubation time is about 14 days. This means a child who has not yet developed symptoms with roseola can easily transmit the infection to another infant.
Roseola outbreaks can occur anytime during the year.
Are there any complications?
The most severe complication roseola can cause is febrile seizures. This means that as the child’s temperature increases, there is a chance of the child having a seizure that is directly related to the fever.
Roseola symptoms may mimic other skin conditions or medical issues. Often consult the physician for a diagnosis of your infant.
How can it be prevented?
There is no vaccine available to prevent roseola. Prevention involves limiting exposure to infected people is critical for this purpose that children with roseola do not come into contact with other kids until their fever has broken.
People who have contact with roseola should regularly wash their hands to avoid passing on the virus, particularly to someone who doesn’t have the antibodies to fight it. It is, therefore, a safe idea to clean antimicrobial sprays regularly off household surfaces.
People may reduce the risk of infection by teaching hygienic practices to children, such as ensuring that they sneeze and cough into tissues and then disposing of the tissue immediately afterwards.
It is also best not to encourage them to share cups, plates, or utensils with others to minimize their exposure to contaminated saliva.