Conditions + Treatments

Roseola Symptoms & Causes

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In-Depth

What is roseola?

Roseola is a viral illness that results in a viral exanthema, which is another name for a rash or skin eruption. Roseola is a contagious disease that usually consists of a high fever and a rash that develops as the fever decreases.

What causes roseola?

Roseola is caused by many viruses. The most common cause is the human herpes virus-6 virus. It occurs mostly in children under the age of 3.

Roseola is contagious, although the way it is spread is unknown. It occurs mostly in the spring and fall.

What are the symptoms of roseola?

It may take between five to 15 days for a child to develop symptoms of roseola after being exposed to the disease. A child is probably most contagious during the period of high fever, before the rash occurs, making it more likely to spread among children.

Each child may experience symptoms differently, but, in general, the most common signs include:

  • high fever that starts abruptly and may last three to four days
  • irritability
  • swelling of the eyes
  • rash

As the fever decreases, a pink rash, with either flat or raised lesions, starts to appear on the trunk and then spreads to the face, arms and legs.

Are there any complications?

The most serious complication that can occur with roseola is febrile seizures. This means that as the child's temperature increases, there is a chance of the child having a seizure that is directly related to the fever.

The symptoms of roseola may resemble other skin conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

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