Children's Hospital Colorado

Roseola

Urgent or Emergency Care?

If you believe your child needs immediate attention and you have concerns for a life-threatening emergency, call 911. Not sure what counts as urgent and what's an emergency when your child is sick or injured? When it can't wait, know where to take your kids.

Help Me Decide

  • Roseola is a widespread fine pink rash that's caused by a specific virus
  • Classic feature is that the rash is preceded by 2 or 3 days of high fever
  • The fever goes away before the rash starts
  • A doctor has told you that your child probably has Roseola or
  • Rash occurs after several days of fever, but fever gone now

Symptoms of Roseola

  • Most children get Roseola between 6 months and 3 years of age.
  • Rash: Pink, small, flat spots on the chest and stomach. Rash is the same on both sides of the body. Then spreads to the face.
  • Classic feature: 2 or 3 days of high fever without a rash or other symptoms.
  • The rash starts 12 to 24 hours after the fever goes away.
  • The rash lasts 1 to 3 days.
  • By the time the rash appears, the child feels fine.

Cause of Roseola

  • Human herpes virus 6 (HHV6)

Viral Rashes and Drug Rashes

  • Prescription drugs sometimes cause widespread rashes.
  • Non-prescription (OTC) drugs rarely cause any rashes.
  • Most rashes that occur while taking an OTC drug are viral rashes.
  • Fever medicines (acetaminophen and ibuprofen) cause the most confusion. Reason: Most viral rashes start with a fever. Hence, the child is taking a fever med when the rash starts. But, the fever med had nothing to do with the rash.
  • Drug rashes can't be diagnosed over the phone.

Prevention

  • Good hand washing can prevent spread of infection.

Call 911 Now

  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Rash becomes purple or blood-colored
  • Large blisters on skin
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Fever comes back
  • Rash becomes worse
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Rash lasts more than 4 days
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Roseola rash

Care Advice for Roseola

  1. What You Should Know About Roseola:
    • Most children get Roseola between 6 months and 3 years of age.
    • It's the most common rash in this age group.
    • By the time they get the rash, the fever is gone. The child feels fine.
    • The rash is harmless and goes away on its own.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Treatment:
    • No treatment is needed.
    • Creams or medicines are not helpful.
  3. Moisturizing Cream for Itch:
    • Roseola usually is not itchy. If your child's rash is itchy, here are some tips.
    • Use a moisturizing cream (such as Eucerin) once or twice daily.
    • Apply the cream after a 5 or 10-minute bath. (Reason: Water-soaked skin feels less itchy).
    • Avoid all soaps. (Reason: Soaps, especially bubble bath, make the skin dry and itchy).
  4. Fever Medicine:
    • For fevers above 102° F (39° C), give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
    • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
    • Note: Fevers less than 102° F (39° C) are important for fighting infections.
    • For all fevers: Keep your child well hydrated. Give lots of cold fluids.
    • Note: By the time the rash occurs, the fever should be gone. If your child has both, see Rash or Redness - Widespread care guide.
  5. What to Expect:
    • Roseola rash goes away in 2-3 days.
    • Some children with Roseola just have 3 days of fever without a rash.
  6. Return to Child Care:
    • Once the rash is gone, the disease is no longer contagious.
    • Your child can return to child care or school.
    • Children exposed to your child earlier may come down with Roseola in 9-10 days.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Fever comes back
    • Rash lasts more than 4 days
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

Disclaimer

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

If you think that your child is having a medical emergency, call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!

And when in doubt, call your child's doctor NOW or go to the closest emergency department.

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