Roseola : Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Summary :

◉ What is roseola ?

Roseola is a contagious viral infection of infants or very young children that causes a high fever and then a rash that develops as the fever subsides.

The disease is also called roseola infantum, exanthema subitum or sixth disease, it is caused by human herpes virus type 6 (HHV- 6) or, more rarely, herpes virus type 7 (HHV-7).

Roseola mainly affects children aged 6 months to 2 years. It is usually mild and goes away on its own in about a week.

roseola button

◉ Who could get roseola?

Anyone can get roseola, but the virus mainly affects children aged 6 months to 2 years. It is almost never seen in children less than 3 months old or over 3 years old.

◉ Causes and risk factors

Roseola is caused by a type of herpes virus, usually human herpes virus 6 (HHV-6) or sometimes herpes virus human 7 (HHV-7).

It most often occurs in spring and autumn, it is spread through saliva and droplets of fluid from the nose and throat of infected people when they talk, laugh, cough or sneeze.

◉ Roseola Symptoms

The symptoms of roseola appear after 5 to 15 days of incubation. However, it is possible to be infected with roseola without showing any signs of it.

◉ Symptoms of roseola can include:

  • Fever: Roseola often begins with a sudden high fever, often above 39.4 C, which lasts or may come and go for 3 to 7 days and then abruptly disappears.
  • Rash: As the fever subsides, a rash develops. The rash often starts on the chest, back, and stomach, then spreads to the neck and arms. It is made of pink or red spots, non-irritating and non-painful.

◉ Children with roseola may also develop cold or flu symptoms, including:

  • Runny nose.
  • Red eyes.
  • Sore throat.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Stomach upset or diarrhea.
  • Febrile seizure
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite

Note : In most cases, the child is not very sick, and very often the disease goes unnoticed.

◉ Diagnosis of roseola

The doctor will make the diagnosis based on the characteristic course of the disease and the rash.

roseola rash

◉ How to treat roseola ?

Roseola usually does not require professional medical treatment. When this is the case, most treatments aim to reduce the high fever.

  • Faites boire beaucoup de liquide à l'enfant.
  • Donner le paracétamol ou de l'ibuprofène pour la fièvre et l'inconfort.
  • Habiller son enfant avec des vêtements légers, juste une chemise et un short ou une couche.
  • Bains tièdes pour hautes températures.
  • Les antibiotiques doivent être évités.
  • Ne donnez jamais d'aspirine à un enfant atteint d'une maladie virale car son utilisation dans de tels cas a été associée au syndrome de Reye.

◉ Prevention

There is no vaccine to prevent roseola. Good hygiene is the best way to prevent others from contracting the virus.

  • Avoid close contact with an infected person.
  • Cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
  • Do not share cups, plates, cutlery and cooking utensils
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm running water after contact with nasal or oral secretions, after handling used tissues and before preparing or eating food.

◉ Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is Roseola a problem for pregnant women ?
A: There is no evidence that exposure to roseola during pregnancy has any negative effect on the mother or the fetus.

Q: How long is Roseola contagious ?
A: Once your child's temperature has returned to normal for 24 hours, your child is no longer contagious (even if the rash is still there).

Q: Can I get Roseola from my baby?
A: Most people have antibodies to roseola by age four, whether or not they have had symptoms. This means that you are unlikely to catch the virus from your baby.

Q: Is Roseola itchy?
A: Generally, roseola is not itchy.

Q: Is Roseola dangerous?
A: It is usually harmless, and complications are very rare

Q: How long does roseola rash last ?
A: Roseola rash starts 12-24 hours after fever goes away and lasts about 1-3 days

Q: Can you get roseola twice ?
A: It is rare to get roseola more than once.


  1. HealthLink BC - Roseola
  2. Info santé - Roséole (exanthème subit)
  3. Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department - ROSEOLA
  4. PROFESSOR JOHN MURTAGH - Roseola infantum
  5. hopkinsmedicine - Roseola
  6. Rolf Temperli, Andrea Duppenthaler - Mon enfant a de la fièvre
  7. clevelandclinic - Roseola
  8. Disease Handbook for Childcare Providers -2018 : ROSEOLA (Exanthema Subitum)
  9. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne - Roseola infantum
  10. Jenny Leach- Roseola