Roseola is a viral illness that results in a viral exanthem. Exanthem is another name for a rash or skin eruption. Roseola is a contagious disease marked by a high fever and a rash that develops as the fever decreases.
Roseola is probably caused by more than one virus. The most common cause appears to be human herpes virus 6 (HHV-6). It occurs mostly in children younger than age 3. It occurs throughout the year.
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. The following are the most common symptoms of roseola. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- High fever that starts abruptly
- Fever (may last three to seven days)
- Swelling of the eyelids
- 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)
The most serious complication of roseola is febrile seizures. As the child's temperature becomes high, there is a chance that the child will have a seizure.
The symptoms of roseola may resemble other skin conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
Roseola is usually diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination of your child. The rash of roseola that follows a high fever is unique, and suggests the diagnosis simply on physical examination.
Do not give aspirin to a child without first contacting the child's physician. Aspirin, when given as treatment for children, has been associated with Reye syndrome, a potentially serious or deadly disorder in children. Therefore, pediatricians and other healthcare providers recommend that aspirin (or any medication that contains aspirin) not be used to treat any viral illnesses in children.
Specific treatment for roseola will be determined by your child's physician based on:
- Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the disease
- Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the disease
- Your opinion or preference
The goal of treatment for roseola is to help decrease the severity of the symptoms. Since it is a viral infection, there is no cure for roseola. Treatment may include:
- Increased fluid intake
- Acetaminophen for fever (DO NOT GIVE ASPIRIN)
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