What is Roseola?

Roseola is a condition that typically affects children that are age two and younger. Occasionally, it affects adults, but the majority of people affected are of toddler age. This condition is extremely common and most children are affected by the disease by kindergarten age.

Roseola is caused by a variation of the herpes virus. There are two strains that cause the disorder. Parents can tell their child has been affected because the condition is characterized by a fever that lasts for several days. After the fever stage, the child develops a rash.

Roseola can develop in a very mild form. Many children affected by mild roseola do not experience any signs or symptoms. Others experience a wide range of symptoms. The disorder is not usually serious. However, in rare cases, the high fever it can cause can lead to complications.

What are the Symptoms of Roseola?

A child who is exposed to roseola can become infected with the virus. After exposure, it can take between one to two weeks for any signs or symptoms to appear. Many times, even if a child does come into contact with the virus, or even contracts the virus, they may not show any symptoms.

This may confuse many parents. However, it is not uncommon for a child to become infected with a viral infection and show not symptoms.

However, a readily noticeable viral infection can carry the following symptoms:

  • Extremely high fever, many times above 103 degrees F.
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Rash with no itching or discomfort
  • Irritability
  • Mild diarrhea
  • Diminished appetite
  • Swelling of the eye lids

Most symptoms of this condition appear after the initial fever fades away.

How is Roseola Treated?

The majority of children recover from the roseola virus around one week after the initial onset of the fever. Ask your pediatrician’s advice about taking over-the-counter fever reducer.

Do not give children or teenagers aspirin unless directed to do so by your child’s doctor. This is because giving aspirin to a child or teenager can lead to a life-threating condition called Reye’s Syndrome.

There is no widely agreed upon treatment for the roseola virus. Many doctors prescribe antiviral medications to treat the viral infection. However, unless the child is immune compromised, antivirals should be avoided because long term use can force the virus to mutate many years down the line, which could make it more dangerous.

Last Reviewed:
October 10, 2016
Last Updated:
August 23, 2017