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Infant roseola: symptoms, transmission and treatment

December 2019

Infant roseola, also known as a sudden rash, is a contagious disease that mainly affects infants and children, from 3 months to 2 years old, and can cause symptoms such as sudden high fever, which can reach 40ºC, decreased appetite and irritability, which lasts about 3 to 4 days, followed by small pink spots on the child's skin, especially on the trunk, neck and arms, which may or may not itch.

This infection is caused by some types of viruses that are from the herpes family, such as human herpes virus types 6 and 7, echovirus 16, adenovirus, among others, which are transmitted through droplets of saliva. Therefore, although the virus is not caught more than once, it is possible to acquire roseola more than once if the child is infected by a virus different from the other times.

Although it causes uncomfortable symptoms, roseola usually has a benign, uncomplicated evolution, and heals itself. However, your pediatrician can advise a treatment to relieve the child's symptoms, such as antihistamine ointments, to relieve itching, or Paracetamol to control fever, for example.

Infant roseola: symptoms, transmission and treatment
Infant roseola: symptoms, transmission and treatment

Main symptoms

Infant roseola has a duration of about 7 days, and has symptoms that arise in the following order:

  1. Sudden onset of high fever, at 38 to 40° C, for about 3 to 4 days;
  2. Fever can decrease or disappear suddenly;
  3. The appearance of spots on the skin, reddish or pink, mainly on the trunk, neck and arms, which last about 2 to 5 days and disappear without flaking or change in color.

The spots on the skin may be accompanied by itching or not. Other symptoms that may appear with roseola include loss of appetite, cough, coryza, red throat, body aches or diarrhea.

To confirm the diagnosis of roseola, it is very important that a pediatrician evaluates the child, seeing the symptoms presented and, if necessary, ask for tests that can confirm the diagnosis because there are several situations that may cause fever and red spots in children.

How transmission happens

Infant roseola is transmitted through contact with saliva of another contaminated child through speech, kissing, coughing, sneezing or toys contaminated with saliva and can be transmitted even before skin blemishes appear. The symptoms usually appear after 5 to 15 days of the contagion, period in which the virus installs and multiplies.

This infection is not usually transmitted to adults because most individuals have defenses to roseola, even if they have never had the disease, but it is possible for an adult to get roseola if their immune system is weakened. In addition, it is rare for pregnant women to become contaminated with the roseola virus and to be able to develop the disease during pregnancy, but even if you become contaminated, there are no complications for the fetus.

Infant roseola: symptoms, transmission and treatment

How is treatment done

Child roseola has a benign evolution and usually cures itself. The treatment is guided by a pediatrician, and consists of controlling the symptoms of the disease, especially the use of Paracetamol or Dipyrone which can help reduce fever and prevent febrile seizures.

In addition to the medication, some measures that can help control fever are:

  • Dressing the child in light clothes;
  • Avoid blankets, even if it is winter;
  • Give the child a bath only with water and slightly warm temperature;
  • Put a wet cloth in cool water on the child's forehead for a few minutes and also on the armpits.

When following these guidelines, the fever should subside a little without having to use medication, but it is necessary you should check if the child has a fever several times a day. While the child is ill, it is recommended they not attend day care or have contact other children.

In addition, another option that may help supplement treatment and decrease fever is ash tea, as it has antipyretic properties.

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