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What is roseola rash ?

Roseola rash is a mild infection caused by certain strains of the herpes virus. It causes fever for many days which is then followed by the development of a rash.

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It mostly affects children by the age of 2 years and rarely affects the adults. Mild cases of roseola rash do not show any signs. On rare occasions, roseola rash develops complications due to high fever. Bed rest, fluids and medications to reduce the fever is the ideal treatment for roseola rash.

Symptoms of roseola rash

Contact with other individuals affected by roseola rash, causes the viral infection. As the condition is generally mild, it takes one or two weeks for the signs and symptoms to show up. Even then, they may be barely noticeable.

The symptoms of roseola rash include the following:

  • Fever: The condition starts with an abrupt, high fever of 103 F, along with sore throat, cough, swollen lymph nodes in neck and runny nose. The fever may remain for five days.
  • Rash: Once the fever subsides, the rashes may appear as small pink patches, which are generally flat and sometimes raised with white ring around some of the spots. Usually the roseola rash appears on the back, chest and abdomen and may spread to the arms and neck. It may reach the face and legs also. The rash is not itchy or uncomfortable, but it may last for several days before fading.

Other symptoms of roseola rash are as follows:

  • Mild diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen eye lids
  • Irritability, particularly in children and infants

Seizures in children

Children with roseola rash occasionally experience seizures due to sudden increase in body temperature. Under such conditions, the child may lose consciousness and may jerk the legs, arms, or the head for many seconds to a few minutes. The child may also temporarily lose control over the bladder and bowel movements.

Even though the seizures are not harmful to healthy children, one should seek emergency care if seizures develop.

Roseola rash and individuals with impaired immune systems

People who have undergone an organ or bone marrow transplant, generally tend to have weakened immune systems. Hence, they are at greater vulnerability to develop roseola rash, or to the reoccurrence of a previous infection

Individuals with a compromised immune system, who get affected by roseola rash may develop serious health complications such as pneumonia or encephalitis which is an inflammation of the brain.

When to seek medical attention

One needs to immediately consult a doctor in case of the following:

  • If the fever is very high in the range of above 103 F, and/or when convulsions or seizures develop
  • If the fever does not subside even after seven days and roseola rash does not  improve after three days from initial exposure.
  • If the immune system is impaired and there is exposure to other individuals with roseola rash.

Causes of roseola rash

  • Roseola rash is usually caused by the human herpes virus 7 or HHV7,  and/or the human herpes virus 6 or HHV6.
  • Roseola rash is a contagious infection which can be passed through respiratory secretions or saliva. Sharing a cup with roseola rash infected person can transmit virus by use and contact. Even if the rashes are not visible, individuals affected by roseola rash can be a source for transmitting the infection.
  • Unlike chickenpox and other viral conditions, roseola rash does not spread rapidly and does not cause communitywide outbreak. It is an all season infection.
  • Unlike younger infants who receive antibodies from their mothers while they were in mother’s womb, the older infants are at greater risk of contracting the infection, because the antibodies which they had fades off with time. However,  their immune system still remains under developed. Hence, older infants between 6 to 15 months are in greater risk of contracting roseola rash.

Roseola Rash treatment

  • Normally, children recover from roseola rash within a week. However, the doctor may prescribe over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for controlling the fever. Aspirin should not be given to children with viral illness as it known to aid the development of the serious Reye’s syndrome.
  • There is no definite treatment for roseola rash, but the physician may prescribe anti-viral medications like ganciclovir for people with weak immune system who develop roseola rash. Antibiotics aren’t used for roseola rash treatment.
  • The best way to prevent  roseola is to avoid exposure to people with roseola. Isolation of the affected individual and frequently washing the hands can help prevent the spread of roseola rash.

A doctor’s recommendations for treating fever at home include:

  • Plenty of rest till the fever disappears.
  • Sponge baths or applying washcloth on head gives comfort from fever. Avoid ice, cold water, cold water bath and fans, as it may cause chills in the child.
  • Intake plenty of fluids such as water, lemon-lime soda, ginger ale, clear broth, sports drinks or electrolyte solutions.

Roseola rash pictures

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