(Exanthem Subitum; Roseola Infantum)
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Roseola is an infection caused by a virus. It is characterized by a sudden onset of high fever followed by a rash. This disorder usually resolves on its own with no complications. Roseola can occur year round, but it is most common in the spring and fall.
Roseola is usually caused by a virus called human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6). It can also be caused by human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7). These viruses are not the same as the herpes viruses that cause cold sores or genital herpes .
Factors that increase the chance of roseola include:
- Age: 6 months to 3 years; most common between 6 months and 15 months
- Contact with an infected child is rarely reported
Symptoms of roseola include the following:
- 103°F to 105°F
- Begins suddenly and is not associated with other symptoms
- Lasts 3 days, occasionally a day or two longer
- Convulsions may occur in association with high fever in up to 5% to 10% of children
Rash is characteristic in roseola and develops typically 12-24 hours after the fever
- Appears first on chest and abdomen
- 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
- Poor appetite
- Upper respiratory tract infection symptoms may be present before onset of 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. The symptoms and physical findings of roseola are so distinctive that no other tests are usually needed. Often, there is a history of other children with roseola in the community.