Roseola Infantum in Children: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Roseola is viral disease that commonly affects children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. This illness is referred to by many names including the common roseolainfantum, the sixth disease and exanthemsubitum. This is, however, a mild viral disease that is characterized by rashes and a rise in the body temperature of the young one.

What Causes Roseola Infantum?

As mentioned, this is a viral illness which means that it can be spread from one infected person to another. The most common cause of the illness is the human herpes virus 6 along with the other herpes virus 7. This is a contagious illness that can be spread even when the child doesn’t have a visible rash. Children can contract it from a child who only suffers from a fever and it’s important to look out for the symptoms of this illness to avoid spreading it. You also need to monitor your child closely, especially when he or she has interacted with a child bearing the illness. The good news is that unlike many childhood viral diseases, roseola does not spread rapidly which means that chances of having a countrywide outbreak are rare.

What Are the Symptoms of Roseola Infantum?

Upon exposure to the virus, it would take between a week and two weeks for the symptoms of the infection to be noticed. In some cases, the infection may be mild making the signs hard to notice. However, there are some signs that you need to be on the lookout for and these are:

1. Fever

This is the first sign of a roseola infection and this tends to develop suddenly, reaching high temperatures of more than 103ºF or 39.4ºC. Your child may also develop a sore throat, cough, running nose along with the fever or before the fever develops.

2. Rash

A rash will normally appear after the fever stage and this rash would be in form of small pink patches or spots. You might also notice a white ring around the rashes. These rashes will appear on the chest, abdomen and back before spreading to the arms and neck. It could also spread to the face and legs but not in all cases. The rash is not uncomfortable as it does not itch, butit will last a few days.

3. Other Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose
  • Mild diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Reduced appetite

When to See a Doctor

If your child’s fever spikes fast and becomes high, a febrile seizure could occur and these are convulsions brought about by a high fever. In many cases, the threat of convulsions will pass by the time the mother notices that the young one has a fever. However, if your child suffers from an unexplained seizure, you need to seek immediate medical care.

Call your doctor when:

  • Your child’s fever surpasses 103ºF
  • The rash continues for more than three days with no improvement
  • Roseola and fever last more than a week

How to Treat Roseola Infantum

Like all viruses, no treatment will kill the virus. Treatment is, therefore, aimed at managing the viral infection until all the symptoms disappear. Here’s how you can treat roseola:

1. Use Medications with Caution

Fever makes children irritable and uncomfortable. You can attempt to bring down the fever by giving you child ibuprofen or paracetamol. However, do not offer these medications at the same time and make sure that they are safe for your child. Ibuprofen in particular is not recommended for children who are hypersensitive to NSAIDs, children who suffer from asthma attacks triggered by NSAIDS and children with chickenpox.Don’t self-medicate. Instead, seek advice on the proper dose of this medication.

2. Home Remedies

If your child appears to be comfortable even with the fever, you don’t need to medicate him. You can also take off the child’s clothes to prevent overheating the body. Although popular, cold sponging is not advised as this causes constriction within the blood vessels. However, you can use a fan to create good circulation of cool air as this will cool down the child. Cold sponging not only constricts the blood vessels, it also reduces the body’s heat. Cold sponging could also trap heat in some deep parts of the body leaving the child in a worse off state. Most children find cold sponging an uncomfortable form of therapy.

Rehydrate the child and the best liquid would be breast milk. However, you can substitute breast milk with just milk or water. Fever may lead to dehydration due to the increased sweating and many children become irritable by the temperatures to a point that they do not drink enough liquids. Encourage fluid intake when your child has a fever to prevent dehydration. Some common signs of dehydration that you need to be vigilant about are: sunken eyes, drowsiness, lack of tears and dry mouth amongst others.

How to Prevent Roseola Infantum

Roseola has no vaccine and the best way to prevent contracting this virus is by avoiding contact with infected persons. Keep your child away from children with the illness and if it is your child with the illness, keep him away from other children until the fever is passed.

There are antibodies that make one immune to roseola infantum and this is naturally developed when the child reaches school going age. This makes the child immune to a second bout of the infection. In case you have a household member with the viral infection, ensure that all members of your family prevent contracting the disease by washing their hands more frequently.

Want to know more about how to prevent your baby from roseola infantum? Check out the video below: