Common and generally benign in children, roseola can however lead to complications in some cases, especially in adults. Ohmymag tells you everything you need to know to recognize and fight this illness.
Everything You Need To Know About Roseola
1. What is roseola: Roseola is a childhood disease that usually affects children aged 6 months to 2 years. It is also known as the 'sixth disease' because it was often the sixth disease young children developed. Highly contagious, this disease is caused by HHV-6, one of the herpes viruses. It is spread by air, in the droplets expelled during a sneeze or a coughing fit.
After contracting this disease, which is usually mild, the child is immune for the rest of their life. This explains why it is so rare to contract roseola in adulthood.
2. Symptoms of roseola: The symptoms of roseola are similar in children and adults. It is manifested first by a high fever (over 39° C), sudden onset. It usually lasts 3 to 5 days and can eventually be accompanied by headaches, fatigue, sore throat, mild diarrhoea or runny nose. It can also lead to swollen glands in the neck as well as swollen eyelids.
In some cases, especially in infants, the fever can cause fits - whilst these are usually harmless, you should see a doctor immediately as a precaution. The rash usually appears once the fever has gone down. It is composed of small pink spots which whiten when you put pressure on them. They do not itch but can spread to the limbs, neck, tummy, back, or, more rarely, to the face. These symptoms usually subside after two days. However, it can sometime sbe difficult to distinguish rash caused by Roseola from other more serious childhood infections such as rubella, measles and scarlet fever so if symptoms persist, see a doctor to ensure the correct diagnosis and treatment.
3. Treatment of roseola: If your baby under 6 months has a high fever, such as that accompanying roseola, you should always see a doctor as a precaution. This being said, roseola largely benign in children.
It heals spontaneously after a few days, so treatment is required only to ease the symptoms - ensure that your child is well hydrated and you can give them children's paracetamol if their fever is making them uncomfortable. To help alleviate symptoms faster, it's important to make sure your child rests well if the symptoms make them feel particularly unwell.
In adults, we must be particularly vigilant because of the risk of complications (e.g. meningoencephalitis, hepatitis). Do not hesitate to consult a doctor at the onset of symptoms. There are no particular complications related to pregnancy. However, it is advisable for the non-immune pregnant woman to stay well away from anyone affected by roseola.
4. When to contact your GP: Most children affected tend to recover within a week as symptoms fade quickly. However, if you're particularly concerned about symptoms, it might be best to see your doctor.
Other cases include if your child is under three months old and shows a temperature above 38°C, or if your child is between three and six months old and demonstrates a temperature above 39°C.
Finally, if the rash doesn't subside after three days, seek medical guidance from your doctor.