What is roseola?
Roseola is a viral illness. It’s most common in children between 6 months and 2 years of age.
How does it spread?
Direct contact: When someone comes into contact with an infected person’s saliva (spit), on their hands and by rubbing their eyes or nose.
Indirect contact: When germs in the nose and throat of an infected person spread through the air—as droplets from a cough or sneeze.
How can I prevent roseola from spreading?
Hand washing is the best way to reduce the spread of viral infections.
What are the symptoms of roseola?
- Roseola usually starts with a high fever (often over 39.5°C or 103° F) that lasts for 3-5 days.
- Most children are not very sick during the fever stage. But for some children the fever can be associated with febrile seizures (or convulsions).
- Your child may be cranky and irritable.
- When the fever ends, a rash of small pinkish- red spots develops on your child’s face and body. The spots will turn white when you touch them and they might have a lighter ring around them. The rash usually spreads to the neck, face, arms, and legs. It can last from a couple of hours to up to 2 days. It is usually not itchy.
What can parents do?
Despite the fever and rash, most children with roseola do not get very sick and the condition gets better without treatment.
- Antibiotics cannot be used to treat roseola because it is caused by a virus, not a bacteria.
- Keep your child comfortable and offer your child plenty of fluids until he starts to feel well again.
- Children do not need to be treated for fever unless they are uncomfortable.
When should I call the doctor?
Call the doctor if your child:
- has a fever for more than 72 hours.
- is under 6 months old and has a fever.
- has a seizure.
- is lethargic or dehydrated.
Source: Well Beings: A Guide to Health in Child Care (3rd edition)
More information from the CPS:
Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
- Public Education Advisory Committee
Last Updated: October 2013