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

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 Office

Your 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.

Treatment Options

Drug Therapies

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Herbal 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. Mix four to six of the above and drink as a tea, 1 cup three to four times per day or as a tincture, 60 drops three to four times per day. In addition, a strong tea (2 tbsp. herb) can be added to a bath to keep fever down.

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. Physical Medicine
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 Up

Most children get well within about a week with no problems. If your child has a seizure, call your provider or emergency room immediately.

Special Considerations

Avoiding infected children is the only prevention. There is no vaccine for roseola.


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