Roseola Overview

Roseola infantum (also known as exanthema subitum, or sixth disease) is the most common, contagious viral rash in children under 3 years of age. This mild, self-limiting infection resolves rapidly and infection results in lifelong immunity.

Causes of Roseola

Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) and human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7) cause roseola.

Signs and Symptoms of Roseola

Following an incubation period of 1 to 2 weeks, a high fever (102º–105º F) develops. Seizures sometimes occur due to the high fever. The child usually does not appear very ill. On the third or fourth day, the fever lowers suddenly and the rash develops. It is not itchy and appears as small pink bumps. Typically, it begins on the trunk and may spread to the neck, arms, and legs. The rash resolves in a day or two, with fine scaling over the areas.

Roseola Diagnosis

Diagnosis is suspected when there is high fever in a child who appears well, followed by a transient rash.

Treatment for Roseola

No specific treatment is available for roseola.

Roseola Prevention

No preventive measures are known.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Aug 2000

Last Modified: 02 Oct 2015