Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis

Roseola has been diagnosed in your child by your doctor. Another name for this common illness of small children is exanthem subitum. It is important that you know that this illness is not “measles” or “German measles.” Both of these illnesses are more serious for either the child or a pregnant woman. Roseola is generally not a serious illness. Roseola is thought to be infectious, possibly caused by a type of herpes virus. Your child, however, may not have a history of exposure to others with the illness, which is usually the case. Roseola does not pose any special risk to pregnant women.

Living With Your Diagnosis
The illness is most prevalent in the child from 6 months to 3 years old. It is never seen after the age of 5 years. The illness begins with the sudden onset of fever. The child may have a temperature up to 105°F. In spite of the high temperature, the child usually does not look or act very ill. The fever will last from 2 to 5 days but most frequently for 3 or 4 days. Suddenly the child will break out in a rash, and the fever will go away. The rash is rose-pink and blotchy. It appears first on the chest and upper back, then spreads to the arms and neck. At this point, the fever has disappeared and the child acts totally well.

Because this common childhood illness is caused by a virus, there is no specific treatment. You can make your child more comfortable by treating the fever with acetaminophen or children’s ibuprofen in the doses listed in Table 1 and 2.
Table 1.
Age Weight (lb) Dose of Acetaminophen
4-7 months 13-17 80 mg every 4 hours
8-18 months 18-23 120 mg every 4 hours
1.5-3 years 24-32 160 mg every 4 hours
Table 2.
Age Weight (lb) Dose of Ibuprofen
4-7 months 13-17 Not recommended
8-18 months 18-23 50-100 mg every 6-8 hours
1.5-3 years 24-32 100 mg every 6-8 hours
Other things you can do for the fever are to give your child lukewarm baths, have your child wear lightweight clothing, keep your child quiet, and give your child cool drinks. Because of the rapid onset of the fever, an occasional child may have what is referred to as a febrile convulsion or seizure. If this should occur, contact your physician immediately.

The DOs
Because this is such a mild illness, you should treat your child as normally as possible. There is nothing that can be done to make the illness go away any quicker. There is no special diet that the child should eat.

The DON’Ts
Because roseola is a viral infection, there is nothing that you can do to make the rash go away any faster. Therefore, do not put any cortisone creams, calamine lotion, or Vaseline on the rash. Acetaminophen or children’s ibuprofen, as discussed above, can be used to help make your child more comfortable.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If the illness does not follow the course as outlined.
• If your child becomes more ill, acts as if he is in pain, or does not eat or drink fairly normally. This may indicate that the child has another virus or a very rare complication.