Roseola Infantum

A viral infection that causes a high fever followed by a rash of tiny pink spots

  • Most common between the ages of 6 months and 2 years
  • Gender, genetics, and lifestyle are not significant factors

Roseola infantum is a common illness in early childhood that affects about 3 in 10 children in the UK. The infection is caused by strains of the herpes virus that are spread by close contact with other children. One attack of the infection gives lifelong immunity.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of roseola infantum develop in two stages. The first and main symptom is a high fever, which appears 5–15 days after infection and develops rapidly over a few hours. Some children also have:

  • Mild diarrhoea.

  • Dry cough.

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

In some children, the high fever causes febrile convulsions. After about 4 days, the fever subsides and a rash of tiny pink spots develops on the face and trunk. This rash usually disappears within a few days.

What might be done?

Roseola infantum does not require specific treatment, and your child will feel better as soon as his or her temperature drops and the spots appear. However, you should contact the doctor at once if the self-help measures for bringing down a fever are not effective, if a baby under 6 months old is feverish, if your child has a febrile convulsion, or if he or she seems ill even after the fever has been lowered.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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