Infant Illness With Rash…What is Roseola?

RoseolaHave you experienced your infant being ill and having a rash at the same time? Last week Kelly and I took Sophia to the park and after a little while we noticed she just wasn’t her excitable self…you know, the arms flapping, the wiggly legs, the high pitched hoots that all start when she sees the park.  Kelly brought it up while we were there.  I had to admit that something was amiss.  The following day I had Sophia duty.  Upon awakening from her noontime nap, she always lets us know she’s awake with a cry that says, “Hey I’m up! I’m down here in my room. Are you coming?” So I looked at the “ole video monitor” and there she was standing up in her crib looking towards her door.  As I picked Sophia up, I immediately felt heat radiating off her flushed cheeks!  “Hmmm, what has Sohia gotten herself into now?”, I silently thought.


A 101.8 fever!  Tylenol was fast at hand and after a bit her temp mellowed to 99.6 or so.  For the next 2 long days…fever, fever, fever and no others symptoms. She didn’t have a cough, nor was she tugging at her ear. Her voice was fine, appetite remained good, and activity was as normal as could be…with a fever that is.  “Could this be?”, yep.  “She’s the right age and only time will tell,” I thought.


Roseola Infantum or Sixth Disease is a common illness that is causes by a virus in the herpes family.  So called Sixth Disease due to the virus being the “6th” one identified that causes a rash after a febile illness in infants and toddlers.  It commonly occurs between 6 and 18months of age, with the average age being 9 months.  Its onset of symptoms occurs 9-10 days after initial exposure.  You can expect high fever (up to 104.5 in some cases) for a couple days in which Tylenol is baby’s best friend.  Fever quickly subsides, followed by (presto!!!) a fairly rapidly progressive pinkish/red “splotchy” rash that usually starts on the trunk and over a few hours spreads to the arms, legs, neck and sometimes but not always the face.  I’ve seen and treated many cases of Roseola in my years as a clinician and more often than not the distraught parents are both with baby and think she must have a deadly illness from the jungles of Africa!  I treat the parents as well…using a little reassurance that I pull out of my “bag of tricks”.  “I’ve never seen a case of Roseloa that didn’t turn out just fine,” I tell them.  “Yes, sometime secondary problems do occur such as ear infections, dehydration and such, but even these are not common,” I go on.


If there’s one thing that will bring a child in to see me quicker than trauma, it’s the baby or toddler with a rash.  It really must be alarming to parents to see their precious little boy or girl covered with the typical rash seen with this viral infection.  The good news?  Baby doesn’t even know she has roseola, it doesn’t hurt or itch, unlike chicken pox or other viral rashes.  Treatment is purely symptomatic.  BUT as always, I encourage you to get baby your checked out at her doc’s office and keep calm, breath, relax! Baby will be just fine!

Brett Davis, P.A.-C  (Sophia’s Dad)




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