Roseola Symptoms and Causes


Human herpes virus 6 (HHV6) and human herpes virus 7 (HHV7): Roseola is usually caused by HHV6, but it can also be caused by HHV7. These two forms do not cause cold sores and genital herpes infections; they cause several days of fever followed by a rash.
Roseola is contagious and can be spread by contact with an infected person's respiratory secretions or saliva. Activities such as laughing, sneezing, talking, or coughing may spread roseola. Also, individuals can spread roseola when they have a fever, even before showing signs of a rash. Adults who were not infected as children may become infected with roseola. However, roseola does not spread as quickly as other conditions, such as the chickenpox.


Physical exam: Roseola is usually difficult to diagnose until the fever drops and the rash appears. The doctor will often take a detailed medical history and perform a physical examination. Additionally, signs and symptoms may be similar to other illnesses such as the common cold or an ear infection so these infections should be ruled out.

signs and symptoms

General: Symptoms of roseola usually appear within one to two weeks after becoming infected with HHV6 and HHV7. However, the signs of infection are often too mild to be noticeable.
Fever: Roseola usually begins with a sudden, high fever often greater than 103° F and lasts for about three to seven days. Children may develop slightly sore throats or runny noses along with or before the fever begins. Swollen glands in the neck are often typical symptoms that occur with fever.
Rash: Once the fever has improved, a rash may develop on many areas of the body and can last anywhere from several hours to several days before fading. The rash consists of many small pink spots or patches, which are usually flat but can also be raised. Additional characteristics include a white ring around some of the spots. The rash usually starts on the chest, back, and stomach areas and then spreads to the neck and arms. Additionally, the rash usually isn't itchy or uncomfortable.


General: Individuals do not usually experience complications from roseola. Children usually have a complete and rapid recovery within one week of developing a fever.
Compromised immune system: Individuals with weak immune systems who develop roseola may have a greater risk of experiencing pneumonia or encephalitis (life-threatening inflammation of the brain).
Dehydration: Patients should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Febrile seizure: A febrile seizure occurs when an infant or young child develops a seizure or convulsions when he/she has a fever higher than 102 °F. Children with roseola occasionally experience febrile seizures when the body temperature rises rapidly. Symptoms may include shaking or jerking of the arms or legs, fixed stare, eyes rolling back, heavy breathing, drooling, bluish skin, and loss of consciousness. However, the seizures usually finish quickly and are rarely harmful. Patients who experience any of these symptoms should be taken to the emergency department of a nearby hospital immediately.

risk factors

Older infants between the ages of six and 12 months have an increased risk of developing roseola because antibodies they received while in their mothers' womb may have faded. Antibodies are an important part of the immune system because they identify harmful substances that enter the body and trigger other immune cells to destroy the invading substance.
Research suggests that babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop infections (especially lung infections, ear infections, and diarrhea) during their first year of life than babies who are fed formulas. This is because the mother's breast milk contains important antibodies, enzymes, fats, and proteins that help boost the baby's immune system.