Roseola Vs Measles

Two highly contagious viruses, they present by and large in children. High fevers and a rash are common symptoms in both. Roseola vs measles, which is it? Here are some guidelines to help with diagnosing these separate conditions.


The Basics:

Roseola is a viral infection caused by two common forms of the herpes virus. Roseola is most prevalent in children two years old or younger. The condition is mild, lasting for several days, in some cases clear symptoms do not even present in a child.


The incubation period of roseola most commonly takes a weak to appear, the signs that your child has been infected with roseola include:

  • Fever: The onset of roseola begins with a fever spiking higher than 103 F.
  • Rash: After the fever breaks a rash begins to develop. Tiny pink spots, that are not raised from the skin and are ringed in white are the telltale signs of a roseola rash. The rash most often starts on the back, chest and stomach. The rash does not itch and will last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
  • Less common symptoms of roseola include: Swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Mild sore throat accompanied with a cough and runny nose. Swollen and puffy eyelids. Low appetite. Slight diarrhea. Irritability and discomfort in the patient.


Roseola is a highly contagious viral illness caused by the human herpes virus 6 and the human herpes virus 7. Roseola is an airborne virus, meaning that it spreads when people come into contact with infected air or saliva. Roseola is communicable for eight days, beginning four days before a rash breaks out, and ending after the rash has been present four days.

Rare Symptoms:

On occasion, when a child’s fever spikes rapidly due to roseola, seizures can occur as well as a brief loss of consciousness and incontinence. If your child seizes, seek medical care immediately, but remember that fever induced seizures in children look terrifying, but are rarely serious.


Unlike viruses such as measles, there is no vaccine to prevent roseola. Avoidance of infection is the best and only course of action in preventing roseola. Luckily, most of us develop antibodies in childhood to roseola and can therefore fight off exposure to the virus once past the early stages of childhood.

Risk Factors:

Children in between infancy and being a toddler are at the greatest risk of contracting roseola. In utero, a baby receives the mother’s antibodies. These antibodies protect the child after it is born, but this immunity decreases in time, therefore the largest window for a child to contract roseola is anywhere between the ages of 6 to 15 months.


The Basics:

Measles is a viral infection that is commonly contacted in childhood. Measles is highly contagious and dangerous to young children. It is an airborne illness, and outbreaks, when they occur, tend to be on a large scale. The MMR vaccine is a common and effective vaccination used to prevent measles from developing.


The incubation period of measles is anywhere from 10 to 14 days after first exposure to the virus. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough (dry)
  • Runny nose
  • Conjunctivitis (swollen eyes)
  • koplik’s spots: small white spots with light blue centers that can be found on the interior of the mouth and the inside wall of the cheek
  • A rash composed of large red patches that usually overlap


There are three main stages that occur in a person infected with measles, they include:

  • Incubation and Infectious Period: 10-14 days after first exposure to measles, the virus incubates without any trace of signs or any symptoms to speak of.
  • Vague Signs, Mild Symptoms: Usually a fever is the symptom that presents first in measles, followed by a dry cough, conjunctivitis, a sore throat and runny nose. These mild and unspecific symptoms can last two or three days.
  • Full Onset Measles and Rash: The rash that accompanies measles is made up of small red clusters of spots, these can be slightly elevated from the dermis. This rash gives the patient's skin a blotchy red appearance. The rash will appear in the patient's face first.

Risk Factors:

The main risk factor of measles is a simple one, not having the measles vaccine. Without this common and effective childhood vaccination, you are at a far greater risk of catching the measles virus. International travel, especially to locations where the measles rate is higher, will also increase your chances of contracting the virus, as well as having a vitamin A deficiency. These last two risk factors diminish if you have had the vaccine.


  • Bronchitis & Laryngitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Ear Infection
  • Encephalitis


The most effective way to prevent measles is through vaccination. Childhood MMR vaccines are essential to prevent measles outbreaks and preserve the “herd immunity” we have developed since the 50s when large scale vaccinations first occurred. Children can get the first dose of the measles vaccine between the ages of 12 and 15 months, with the second dose occurring between the ages of 4 and 6 years. If you are exposed to measles, isolation is crucial to prevent an outbreak, as this airborne virus spreads rapidly and is highly contagious. Isolating yourself while the symptoms present themselves and heal helps stop the spread of measles to other, non-vaccinated, people.

Roseola Vs Measles:

On the surface, both of these conditions have similarities that can link the two viruses together in parents' minds. The subtle differences presented here show the ways in which roseola and measles differ from one another. Roseola is mild, brief and has a very short window. Measles is highly contagious, longer lasting and has more dire and critical potential complications. There is no effective means of preventing roseola from occurring. Measles can be prevented by the MMR vaccine, an essential tool that has virtually eradicated this widespread childhood illness in the western world. If you are not sure whether or not you have contracted measles or roseola, it is essential that you seek the advice of a doctor. Treatment, especially for measles, is necessary to maintain a safe and healthy body that can withstand measles symptoms.