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.

Roseola Causes

Roseola is a viral illness that can be caused by either herpes virus 6 or 7. The most common cause is herpes virus 6. The virus is spread from person to person in must the same way other virus illnesses are spread, through contact with infected people. Respiratory secretions as well as saliva carry the illness and are common ways to spread the virus. Drinking after an infected person is an easy way to contract the virus. Roseola causes a rash, but the rash doesn’t have to be present in order for the infected person to be contagious.

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.

Roseola Prevention

There is no preventative vaccine for roseola. Because the virus is spread from person to person, the only prevention available is to avoid becoming contaminated by an infected person. If you know that a child is sick with this infection, keep your own child away from him or her. If you notice a widespread rash on another child, this could be a sign that the child is infected. If your own child is infected, keep him away from other kids until he no longer has a fever.

Prevention should focus on young children, as kids younger than school age are the most likely to become infected. Don’t allow your child to drink after other kids to prevent an accidental infection. Other parents may not know that their own children have the virus, especially if it isn’t presenting with a rash. Have your child, as well as other members of your household, wash their hands frequently. This can prevent them from touching items that have been infected with the saliva of an infected person and carrying the virus to their mouths or noses. By the time kids are old enough for school, they will likely have the antibodies they need to ward off an infection.