Roseola Infantum

Roseola is a common infection that usually occurs in children between the ages of 6 to 24 months. It may occur up to age 3. It is sometimes called:

  • Exanthem subitum.

  • Roseola infantum.


Roseola is caused by a virus infection. The virus that most often causes roseola is herpes virus 6. This is not the same virus that causes genital or oral herpes.

Many adults carry (meaning the virus is present without causing illness) this virus in their mouth. The virus can be passed to infants from these adults. The virus may also be passed from other infected infants.


The symptoms of roseola usually follow the same pattern:

  1. High fever and fussiness for 3 to 5 days.

  2. The fever goes away suddenly and a pale pink rash shows up 12 to 24 hours later.

  3. The child feels better.

  4. The rash may last for 1 to 3 days.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Runny nose.

  • Eyelid swelling.

  • Poor appetite.

  • Seizures (convulsions) with the high fever (febrile seizures).


The diagnosis of roseola is made based on the history and physical exam. Sometimes a preliminary diagnosis of roseola is made during the high fever stage, but the rash is needed to make the diagnosis certain.


There is no treatment for this viral infection. The body cures itself.


Once the rash of roseola appears, most children feel fine. During the high fever stage, it is a good idea to offer plenty of fluids and medicines for fever.


  • The fever returns.

  • There are new symptoms.

  • Your child appears more ill and is not eating properly.

  • Your child have an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C).

  • Your baby is older than 3 months with a rectal temperature of 100.5° F (38.1° C) or higher for more than 1 day.


  • Your child has a seizure (convulsion).

  • The rash becomes purple or bloody looking.

  • Your child has an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C), not controlled by medicine.

  • Your baby is older than 3 months with a rectal temperature of 102° F (38.9° C) or higher.

  • Your baby is 3 months old or younger with a rectal temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher.