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A child with roseola may develop a rash of pink, raised spots on the chest.

A child with roseola may develop a rash of pink, raised spots on the chest.
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Roseola infantum

What is roseola?

Roseola infantum (or roseola) is an infection that can cause a high fever followed by a rash.

It usually occurs in babies and children up to the age of 3. It lasts about 3 to 5 days and can make your child feel feverish and unwell.

What causes roseola?

Roseola is caused by a virus and is contagious. It's spread by coughing, sneezing and direct contact.

A child can spread roseola before any symptoms appear. Once symptoms appear the child is not contagious.

Roseola symptoms

If your child has roseola you may notice symptoms like:

  • a mild sore throat, runny nose or cough before the fever
  • a high fever (a temperature of more than 40oC), which can last up to 4 days before quickly disappearing
  • a rash of pink, raised spots on their chest, tummy and back, which might spread to the arms and legs - the rash usually appears after your child's temperature goes back to normal
  • swollen glands in their neck.

Sometimes children have febrile convulsions during a fever. This is common and isn't usually serious.

Read more about febrile convulsions on Raising Children Network.

Your child could have roseola and not have any symptoms or may have a high temperature but no rash.

A roseola rash can sometimes be confused with other conditions.

Diagnosis and treatment of roseola

There's no treatment for roseola, but if your child has a high fever or a rash you may want to see a doctor.

Your doctor will probably recommend your child gets rest, and may suggest paracetamol to help with the fever, as well as water to keep them hydrated.

You should also see a doctor if:

  • your child has a convulsion
  • your child is very sleepy or won't drink
  • you can't reduce your child's temperature.

If a convulsion lasts longer than five minutes or your child won't wake up after a convulsion you should seek emergency help. Call triple zero (000) immediately.

Roseola prevention

There's no vaccine for roseola.

Good hygiene, including washing your hands regularly, can reduce the spread of the virus.

Read more about hygiene and hand washing.

Last reviewed: September 2015

Need more information?

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Roseola infantum - Better Health Channel

Roseola is a mild viral infection with associated fever and rash that affects babies and young children.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Roseola infantum: babies and children | Raising Children Network

Roseola infantum is a viral infection in babies and children. Symptoms include fever and rash. It mostly clears by itself, but see a GP if youre worried.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Rashes in babies - roseola infantum

Roseola is one of the very common mild viruses that can cause a fever and rash in babies and young children. It usually does not cause problems for the child except sometimes causing the child to feel unwell for a few days.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Roseola (exanthem subitum, sixth disease) - including symptoms, treatment and prevention :: SA Health

Roseola is caused by human herpes virus-6 (HHV-6) - almost all children have been infected by the age of two

Read more on SA Health website

Common childhood rashes

Childhood rashes are common and many disappear without treatment. Learn about symptoms and treatment of childhood rashes, such as eczema, ringworm and impetigo.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

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