Roseola, also called roseola infantum, is a common childhood infection. Most kids have had roseola by the time they are five.
What causes roseola?
Roseola is caused by a herpes virus, usually human herpes virus 6 (HHV6) or human herpes virus 7 (HHV7). These are not the same herpes viruses that cause cold sores or genital herpes. Roseola is contagious and spreads when someone who has the virus coughs or sneezes. Your child can also get roseola from sharing toys or cups with a child that has the virus.
Is roseola serious?
Roseola is generally not serious. Kids who develop an extremely high fever - 39.4°C or higher - may be at risk for seizures.
Can I prevent roseola?
Like any virus, roseola is best prevented through thorough and frequent hand washing. If your child has roseola, keep her home from school or child care until she is no longer contagious, usually once the fever breaks. Once your child gets roseola, she will be immune from the effects of the virus.
How do I know if my child has roseola?
Roseola is characterised by a high fever (39°C or higher). Once the fever goes away, your child may develop a fine rash on her torso. The rash may or may not spread to the face, arms, and legs. The rash does not itch but may be hyper-sensitve. The rash can last from three hours to three days. Your child may also have diarrhoea, a sore throat and a runny nose.
How do I treat roseola?
The best way to treat roseola is to manage the symptoms while the virus runs its course. Give your child paracetamol for fever and discomfort and monitor her temperature. Make sure that she gets lots of rest and plenty of fluids. Keep her home from child care or school until she feels better to prevent spreading the virus to other children. She should feel better in about a week.
Should I call the doctor?
Because high temperatures can cause febrile convulsions (seizures caused by high fever), consult your doctor if your child has a fever of more than 39.4°C. Call your doctor if the rash lasts longer than three days.
What you need to know about roseola
- Roseola is caused by a herpes virus.
- Roseola is characterised by a high fever followed by a fine rash.
Find more relevant articles and information about roseola
- Learn more about viral infections
- Read more about cold sores
- Read more about fevers
- What are the best ways to measure a child's temperature?
Written by Rebecca Stigall for Kidspot, New Zealand' s parenting resource for family health. Sources include Better Health Channel, NSW Health and Health Insite.
Last revised: Monday, 18 January 2010
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.