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Cartersville Medical Center



Roseola is an infection characterized by a sudden onset of high fever followed by a rash. The infection usually ends on its own without complications.

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Roseola is usually caused by specific herpes viruses. These viruses are not the same as the herpes viruses that cause cold sores or genital herpes .

Risk Factors

Roseola is more common in children aged 6 months to 3 years (6-15 months is most common), and during the spring and fall months. Contact with an infected child is rarely reported.


Roseola may cause:

  • Fever
    • 103°F to 105°F
    • Begins suddenly and is not associated with other symptoms
    • Lasts 3 days, sometimes a day or two longer
  • Convulsions may occur in association with high fever in up to 5% to 10% of children
  • A rash that develops 12-24 hours after the fever
    • Appears on the chest and abdomen first
    • Rose-colored
    • May spread to arms, legs, neck, and face
    • Lasts for a few hours to a few days and does not itch
  • Other symptoms or signs may include:
    • Swelling of lymph nodes in the neck and behind the ears
    • Irritability
    • Poor appetite
    • Upper respiratory tract infection symptoms that may occur before the fever

The appearance of a rash after the fever disappears is the characteristic sign of roseola.


The doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Usually other tests are not needed. Often, there is a history of other children with roseola in the community.


No treatment is needed for roseola unless the child has a weakened immune system. The most important treatment is to keep the fever down and drink plenty of fluids.

Talk to your doctor about how to bring the fever down through:

  • Medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Lukewarm sponge baths
  • Plenty of fluids
  • Note : Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.

Call your doctor if your child has a seizure and/or the fever persists.


To help prevent the spread of roseola, avoid contact with an infected child when possible. The incubation period is 5-15 days. The virus is thought to be spread by contact with infected saliva. Carefully and frequently wash your hands to help prevent the spread of roseola.

Revision Information

  • Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians

  • Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics

  • About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children

  • Alberta Health

  • Roseola infantum. American Academy of Pediatricians Healthy Children website. Available at: Updated May 11, 2013. Accessed August 5, 2013.

  • Roseola. Nemour' Kid's Health website. Available at: Updated July 2012. Accessed August 5, 2013.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Cartersville Medical Center does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.