If your child is exposed to someone with roseola and becomes infected with the virus, it generally takes a week or two for signs and symptoms of infection to appear — if they appear at all. It's possible to become infected with roseola, but have signs and symptoms too mild to be readily noticeable. Roseola symptoms may include:
- Fever. Roseola typically starts with a sudden, high fever — often greater than 103 F (39.4 C). Some children may also have a slightly sore throat, runny nose or cough along with or preceding the fever. Your child may also develop swollen lymph nodes in his or her neck along with the fever. The fever lasts three to five days.
- Rash. Once the fever subsides, a rash typically appears — but not always. The rash consists of many small pink spots or patches. These spots are generally flat, but some may be raised. There may be a white ring around some of the spots. The rash usually starts on the chest, back and abdomen and then spreads to the neck and arms. It may or may not reach the legs and face. The rash, which isn't itchy or uncomfortable, can last from several hours to several days before fading.
Other signs and symptoms of roseola may include:
- Irritability in infants and children
- Mild diarrhea
- Decreased appetite
- Swollen eyelids
When to see a doctor
Seek immediate medical care
Your child could have a convulsion (febrile seizure) if his or her fever becomes high or spikes quickly. However, usually by the time you notice your child's high temperature, the threat of a possible seizure has already passed. If your child does have an unexplained seizure, seek medical care immediately.
Call your child's doctor
Call your child's doctor if:
- Your child has a fever greater than 103 F (39.4 C)
- Your child has roseola and the fever lasts more than seven days
- The rash doesn't improve after three days
Call your doctor
If your immune system is compromised and you come in contact with someone who has roseola, contact your doctor. You may need monitoring for a possible infection that, for you, could be more severe than it is for a child.
May 28, 2015
- Tremblay C, et al. Roseola infantum (exanthem subitum). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 8, 2015.
- Tremblay C, et al. Human herpes virus 6 infection in children: Clinical manifestations; diagnosis; and treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 8, 2015.
- Mamishi S, et al. Prevalence of HHV-6 in cerebrospinal fluid of children younger than 2 years of age with febrile convulsion. Iranian Journal of Microbiology. 2014;6(2):87. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4281666/. Accessed April 8, 2015.
- Roseola infantum. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/miscellaneous_viral_infections_in_infants_and_children/roseola_infantum.html?qt=human herpesvirus 6&alt=sh. Accessed April 8, 2015.
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- What is the role of aspirin in triggering Reye's? National Reye's Syndrome Foundation. http://www.reyessyndrome.org/aspirin.html. Accessed April 8, 2015.