Children get ill, just like every other human being on the planet. However, some diseases and viruses are more common in babies under the age of two. A child who goes to daycare also might be exposed to more pathogens than a child who spends most of his time with a stay-at-home mother might. Either way, some childhood diseases circulate. Roseola is one of those. Here's what you need to know.
What Is Roseola?
In some areas of the country, this virus is known as sixth disease. It usually affects babies from the age of six months to toddlers up to the age of two. While this virus is in the same family as the herpes-simplex viruses, it does not cause cold sores or genital herpes.
What Are The Symptoms Of Roseola?
Roseola typically starts with the usual signs of a respiratory illness, such as chest congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, and a runny nose. However, a high fever, 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, quickly sets in. The child will present with general malaise, irritability, and be listless. They may also have swollen neck glands. Additionally, they will usually have little interest in food.
The fever tends to abruptly disappear. At this same time, a rash will begin on the child's trunk. It may be a red or pink rash that is flat, or it may be raised. The rash, which tends to turn whitish when touched, will then spread from the child's trunk to his arms, legs, and face. The rash will last a few days, and the fever will last about a week.
While high fevers in babies can be very worrisome for parents, most of the time it is simply the body's way of trying to kill a pathogen. However, in a small percentage of children, a high fever can bring about an epileptic episode known as a febrile seizure, causing unconsciousness and uncontrollable body movements.
Is Roseola Contagious?
The virus that causes roseola is extremely contagious. It can be spread by droplets in the air from coughing and sneezing and talking and then being breathed in by others. These tiny droplets can also land on other surfaces, and then if the child's mouth or nose comes in contact with those surfaces, they can become infected that way. Because children under the age of two are constantly putting things in their mouth, it's very easy to contract roseola. The good thing is after a bout of roseola, most children have lifelong immunity.
How Is Roseola Treated?
Acetaminophen and encouraging liquids is the only treatment. If your child is lethargic, becoming dehydrated, or has a seizure, contact a child doctor in your area.