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Infant and Child Health

Roseola

Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Roseola (also known as roseola infantum or infant measles) is a mild viral illness that often starts with a sudden high fever (38.9° to 40°C or 102° to 104°F) and irritability. The fever lasts 2 to 3 days. As the fever drops, a rosy pink rash appears on the torso, neck, and arms. The rash may last 1 to 2 days.

Since the fever is quite high and may come on quickly, fever convulsions may occur (See Fever Convulsions).

Roseola is most common in children from 6 months to 2 years of age. It is rare after age 4.

Fifth Disease

Another common childhood illness that causes a rash is erythema infectiosum, also known as "fifth disease" or "slapped-face fever." The main symptom is a red rash on the face that looks like slapped cheeks and a lacy, pink rash on the backs of the arms and legs, torso, and buttocks. There may be a low fever. The rash may come and go for several weeks in response to changes in temperature and sunlight.

A child with fifth disease is most contagious the week before the rash appears. Once the rash has developed, the child is no longer contagious.

Home Treatment for fifth disease is simply to keep the child comfortable and watch for signs that a more serious illness is present (fever over 38.3°C or 101°F; child seems very sick).

Fifth disease is harmless in children, but it poses a slight risk to developing fetuses. Pregnant women should avoid exposure if possible. If you are pregnant and are exposed to a child with fifth disease, or if you develop a fifth disease-like rash, contact your obstetrician.

Home Treatment

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  • If the child is uncomfortable, reduce the fever. See Fever.

  • Give the child lots of liquids.

  • If a fever convulsion occurs, See Home Treatment.

When to Call a Health Professional

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See under Fever When to Call a Health Professional.

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