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Roseola is mainly a childhood disease. Almost all of the cases of roseola occur in the first two or three years of life. Roseola begins with a high fever, usually followed by a rash. About 30 percent of all children in the United States get roseola. There is also a type of roseola that occurs in adults who have a serious illness.

Signs and Symptoms


bulletSudden high fever (103° to 106° F), which usually lasts three to four days. Your child will most likely remain alert in spite of the fever.
bulletRash appears as the fever goes away and lasts three to four days. It may look like measles or rubella. There are rose-colored bumps two to three millimeters in diameter. The rash usually appears first on the trunk of the body. It may spread to the neck, arms, and legs but rarely to the face.
bulletSeizures happen in 5 to 35 percent of all cases of roseola. They will not cause brain damage, and they usually go away when the fever goes down. Seizures may also occur without the rash.
bulletBreathing problems, ear infections, and diarrhea occur in about half the cases.


What Causes It?

Roseola is caused by the human herpes virus 6 (HHV-6). It is still unknown how the disease is spread but it may be present in saliva. The incubation period is 5 to 15 days.

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

Your child's health care provider may take blood to check for other conditions and complications. He or she will take your child's temperature and talk to you about how to take care of your child's roseola at home.

Treatment Options

Treatment Plan

There is no cure for, prevention of, or treatment to shorten the length of roseola. Most cases are harmless and are over within a couple of weeks. Cool baths can help reduce fever. Make sure your child drinks a lot of fluids. It prevents dehydration.

Drug Therapies



bulletSedatives—such as diazepam may reduce the chance of seizure in children prone to convulsions
bulletPhenobarbital—sometimes given for seizures


Over the Counter


bulletDrugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol) lower the fever. They also can lessen the discomforts and aches of the fever. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage when too much is taken. Do not give your child more than your provider prescribed. Do not use aspirin. It may cause a very serious disease called Reye's syndrome.


Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Herbal teas are anti-fever, and calming. Adult doses are listed, unless otherwise specified. The formula to determine the child's dose is (age of child divided by 20) x adult dose. Adult doses may given to the mother to treat breastfeeding babies.


Immune stimulating: vitamin C (1,000 mg three times a day), zinc (30 to 60 mg per day), and beta-carotene (250,000 IU/day).


Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots.


bulletCatnip (Nepeta cataria) lowers fever and reduces spasms
bulletPeppermint (Mentha piperita) reduces gas, has been historically used for colds and fevers
bulletElder (Sambuccus nigra) calms your child and reduces fever
bulletFennel (Foeniculum vulgare) for an upset stomach and upper respiratory irritation; calming
bulletYarrow (Achillea millifolium) reduces fever, helps appetite loss
bulletChamomile (Matricaria recutita) stimulates immune system, is a relaxant (to allow for sleep)


Mix four to six of the above and drink as a tea, 1cup three to four times per day or as a tincture, 60 drops three to four times per day. In addition, a strong tea (2 tbsp. herb) can be added to a bath to keep fever down.

Garlic (Allium Sativum)/ginger (Zingiber officinalis) tea (one to three cloves garlic and one to three slices of fresh ginger) may be drunk to stimulate the immune system and prevent upper respiratory infections. Lemon and a sweetener may be added for flavor. Do not give honey to children under 2 years old.


Some of the most common remedies used for roseola are listed below. Usually, the dose is 12X to 30C every one to four hours until your symptoms get better.


bulletAconitum nappellus for rapid onset of high fever
bulletBelladonna for high fever where the face or body are burning hot to the touch, especially with irritability and sensitivity to noise or light
bulletChamomilla for fever with one cheek red and the other pale, with hypersensitivity and irritability
bulletPulsatilla for fever, child is thirstless, clingy, and wants to be held


Physical Medicine

Warming socks. Wet cotton socks with cold water, wring them out, and put on the feet. Put on dry wool socks over the cotton socks and go to bed. This treatment, while uncomfortable at first, will help disperse a fever and allow for a good night's sleep.

Wet sheet wrap. Wrap the child in a cotton sheet that is wet with cold water and wrung out. Then wrap the child in another blanket. Especially in infants, this will disperse a fever and allow a restful sleep.


Acupressure for children may be quite calming and help reduce the fever.


Gentle massage may relieve discomfort. A foot massage may help relax the child. Some children will not want to be touched, however.

Following Up

Most children get well within about a week with no problems. If your child has a seizure, call your provider or emergency room immediately.

Special Considerations

Avoiding infected children is the only prevention. There is no vaccine for roseola.

Supporting Research

Behrman RE, Kliegman RM, Nelson WE, Arvin AM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 1996.

Bove M. An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants. Stamford, Conn: Keats Publishing; 1996:174–176.

Fauci AS, Braunwald E, Isselbacher KJ et al, eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 1998.

Morrison R. Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms. Albany, Calif: Hahnemann Clinic Publishing; 1993:3–6, 58–62, 115–117, 310–315.