©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

Is Roseola Contagious?

Reviewed on 12/15/2020

What is Roseola?

Roseola may be caused by several different viruses and it is contagious. Roseola infantum is skin rash accompanied by fever, usually in infants.
Roseola may be caused by several different viruses and it is contagious. Roseola infantum is skin rash accompanied by fever, usually in infants.

Roseola infantum is a common childhood disease caused by human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6). Roseola infantum patients are typically 9- to 12-month-old infants who develop a high fever, sometimes accompanied by a seizure (febrile seizure). After three days, the fever quickly resolves and a rash that looks like measles appears.

What are Symptoms of Roseola?

Symptoms of roseola infantum include:

  • Sudden onset of high fever (104°F/40°C)
  • Fever lasts 3 days
  • Seizures occur in about 15% of patients
  • Fever disappears quickly and a mild, pink, measles-like rash (morbilliform exanthem) appears
  • Rash is either small, pale, pink bumps, or flat, red areas 1-5 mm in diameter
  • Rash may last two days
  • Red bumps can occur inside the mouth on the soft palate and the base of the uvula (Nagayama spots)

Other symptoms that may accompany the fever and/or rash include:

  • Irritability
  • Crying more
  • Eating and drinking less
  • Vomiting
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling unwell (malaise) 
  • Bulging fontanelle (“soft spot” on a baby’s head)

What Causes Roseola?

Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) causes most cases of roseola in infants. 

Other causes of roseola include:

  • Human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7)
  • Enteroviruses (coxsackieviruses A and B, echoviruses)
  • Adenoviruses 
  • Parainfluenza virus type 1

Is Roseola Contagious?

Roseola may be caused by several different viruses and it is contagious. It is transmitted from person-to-person through respiratory secretions or saliva. People can get the infection from sharing eating utensils or cups with an ingested person, and children can easily spread the virus by sharing toys. 

Roseola is contagious even if a rash is not present and a person is usually contagious until about 2 days after the fever goes away.

How is Roseola Diagnosed?

Roseola infantum is diagnosed with a physical exam and tests may include:

  • Blood tests
    • Complete blood cell (CBC) count
    • Blood cultures
  • Urinalysis
  • Virologic studies 
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examination by a spinal tap

A seizure workup may be recommended in cases where a fever is accompanied by a febrile seizure.

What is the Treatment for Roseola?

There is no medical treatment or cure for the human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) infection that causes roseola infantum. Most of the time, roseola infantum is a mild, benign condition and it goes away on its own. 

The goal of treatment for roseola is to relieve symptoms and may include fever reducers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). 

The rash that accompanies roseola usually does not require treatment. 

SLIDESHOW

Exercise Tips for Kids and the Whole Family See Slideshow

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 12/15/2020
References


CONTINUE SCROLLING FOR RELATED SLIDESHOW