Roseola

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Bacterial Infections 101 Pictures Slideshow

Roseola Symptoms and Signs

Roseola is a mild viral illness of childhood. It is characterized by high fever that typically comes on suddenly and lasts for three to five days. Other symptoms of roseola are mild nasal congestion, eye redness, and a rash that appears after the fever has resolved.

Quick GuideCommon Childhood Skin Disorders

Common Childhood Skin Disorders

Roseola facts

  • Roseola is a mild viral illness most commonly involving young children.
  • Roseola (also termed sixth disease, roseola infantum, and exanthema subitum) is a common viral infection that occurs mainly in children.
  • A sudden high fever that lasts for three to five days is an early feature of roseola. Mild nasal congestion and loose stools may accompany the fever.
  • When the fever disappears, a rash appears, which may last one to two days.
  • The rash of roseola is not contagious.
  • Roseola usually resolves without any treatment.

What is roseola? Is roseola contagious?

Roseola is a mild contagious illness caused by either one of two viruses. Characteristically, roseola has a sudden onset and relatively short duration. Roseola is most common in children 6-24 months of age, with the average age of 9 months. Less frequently, older children, teens, and (rarely) adults may be infected.

Picture of the roseola rash
Picture of the roseola rash; SOURCE: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. Klaus Wolff, Lowell A. Goldsmith, Stephen I. Katz, Barbara A. Gilchrest, Amy S. Paller, David J. Leffell. Seventh Edition. Copyright 2008, 2005, 2001, 1997, 1993 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.

What virus causes roseola?

Roseola is primarily caused by a virus called human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) and less frequently by human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7).

How is roseola spread? What is the incubation period for roseola?

Roseola is spread from person to person, typically by transfer of oral secretions. The incubation period between exposure to the virus and onset of symptoms is nine to 10 days. Humans are the only natural hosts for HHV-6 and HHV-7. Unlike some other viral infections, roseola occurs throughout the year without seasonal variation.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/27/2016

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Roseola - Describe Your Experience

    Please describe your experience with roseola.

    Post View 36 Comments
  • Roseola - Symptoms and Signs

    What were the symptoms and signs you experienced with roseola?

    Post View 12 Comments
  • Roseola - Children and Seizures

    Did your child have a roseola related-seizure? What did you do?

    Post View 2 Comments
  • Roseola - Children and Rashes

    Describe the appearance and timing of the rash when your child had roseola.

    Post View 3 Comments
  • Roseola - Contacting a Doctor

    What was it about your child's illness that prompted you to consult a doctor? Did you suspect roseola?

    Post View 2 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors