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
- Sudden 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.
- Rash appears as the fever goes away and lasts three to four days. It may look like measles or rubella. There are rose-colored bumps 2 to 3 mm 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.
- Seizures 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.
- Breathing problems, ear infections, and diarrhea occur in about half the cases.
What Causes It?Roseola is caused by the human herpesvirus 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 OfficeYour 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.
- Drugs such as acetaminophen lower fever. They also can reduce the discomforts and aches related to fever. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if you take it for long periods or in high doses. Do not use aspirin in the setting of roseola because it may cause a very serious illness called Reye's syndrome.
- Make sure your child drinks a lot of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Sedatives, such as diazepam, may reduce the chance of seizure.
- Phenobarbital is sometimes given for seizures.
Complementary and Alternative TherapiesHerbal teas are fever-reducing, 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 be given to the mother to treat breast-feeding babies.
Immune stimulating: vitamin C (250 to 500 mg two times a day) and zinc (30 to 60 mg per 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.
- Catnip (Nepeta cataria) lowers fever and reduces spasms.
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita) reduces gas, has been historically used for colds and fevers
- Elder (Sambucus nigra) calms your child and reduces fever.
- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) for an upset stomach and upper respiratory irritation; calming
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) reduces fever, helps appetite loss
- Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) stimulates immune system, is a relaxant (to allow for sleep)
Garlic/ginger tea—one to three cloves garlic (Allium sativum) and one to three slices of fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale)—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.
There have been few studies examining the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies. Professional homeopaths, however, may recommend one or more of the following treatments for roseola based on their knowledge and clinical experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type. In homeopathic terms, a person's constitution is his or her physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate remedy for a particular individual.
- Aconitum — for individuals who have a sudden high fever, especially when the fever is accompanied by restless anxiety; this remedy is best when used very early in disease, before a rash appears
- Belladonna — for individuals who have a sudden high fever that rises during the night and is accompanied by flushed face and red lips; the skin tends to be hot to the touch, but extremities feel cold; children for whom this remedy is appropriate tend to be very agitated and may even be delirious
- Pulsatilla — for individuals who have fever and chills that are worse in warm rooms but better in fresh air; symptoms tend to be less intense than for the other remedies listed
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 UpMost children get well within about a week with no problems. If your child has a seizure, call your provider or emergency room immediately.
Special ConsiderationsAvoiding infected children is the only prevention. There is no vaccine for roseola.
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