Roseola…What a Scare!

Roseola, also known as sixth disease, is a relatively mild disease that generally affects children under two years old.   It is characterized by three days of high fever followed by a rash.  The rash usually starts in the trunk then spreads to the face and limbs.  Cause of the disease is the Human Herpes Virus- 6 and it’s transmitted through oral secretions.  No treatment is usually needed other than keeping the child comfortable, hydrated, and the fever under control.

Three days before we took our recent vacation to Maui, Bianca developed a fever.  Matthew and I had been expecting her to catch a cold from daycare since the temperature started dropping in September so we felt prepared.  To our dismay however, her fever lingered between 102 and 105.  Even with Tylenol we were only able to bring it down to 100~101 temporarily.  We were puzzled as other than symptoms that are typically associated with fever (loss of appetite, irritability, etc), she didn’t exhibit any signs of respiratory disease like running nose, coughing, and sneezing.

The day before we went on our vacation, I brought the issue up with a patient’s mom (who is also a physician) who then told me about a virus her daughter contracted last year that was characterized by three days of high fever followed by a rash.  I am so glad she mentioned it because as soon as we arrived in Maui, Bianca’s fever subsided and she developed a rash over her entire torso.  Thanks to her I was able to recount to Matt (who was pretty freaked out) what I learned the day before and together we looked up all the pertinent information online.  Without that prior knowlege the first day of our vacation would probably have been ruined as we frantically search for a pediatric ER on the small island.  Once her fever broke Biance was as happy as a butterfly and went back to her usual giggly babbly self.  The rash eventually went away in three days and the whole illness came and went without any lingering trace.

I want to share this on my blog and hopefully spare a few of my blog readers from excessive worrying and heartache if their child were to catch the virus.  Matthew and I both remember reading about it briefly in school but it’s definitely not something that we encounter often.

Here are some additional tips on dealing with fever:

1.  A fever in a child is defined as over 100.4 F rectal.  If it’s below that it’s considered a “temperature”.

2.  Axillary temperature is slightly lower than oral temperature.  So if you are only able to take your crying child’s temperature from the armpit, make sure you add one degree.

3.  Fever under 105 F can be controlled with acetamenophen or tepid bath.  Once it’s 105 F or above, the child is more likely to have febrile seizsures.  Make sure you consult the pediatrician right the way if your child’s fever gets close to 105 F.

4.  Don’t forget to look at other symptoms too instead of just focusing on the temperature.  Remember, a mild cold can cause a high fever while a severe infection can cause just a low fever.  If the overall picture doesn’t look right, call your child’s pediatrician.

5. A tepid bath is very effective in bringing down the fever.  However, if your child is shivering the water is too cold, add some hot water.

6.  Never rub alcohol on the skin to reduce fever, inhaling the vapor may be harmful.

7.  Never give aspirin to a child to avoid Reye syndrome, a disease that can result in brain damage and fatality.


Typically Presentation of Roseola Rash