Roseola in Infants: Reasons, Signs & Home Remedies

Roseola (Sixth Disease) in Babies

Roseola, or sixth disease, is a highly infectious disease that affects babies and young children. This disease has been known to affect adults as well, though the number of reported cases is lower. It is common in babies and is generally mild and easily treatable.

Roseola is a mild infection caused by two strains of the herpes virus. It may last anywhere between 3 to 5 days. The most common signs include a reddish rash, spread generally all over the body and a high fever.

What Is Roseola?

As discussed above, sixth disease or roseola is a highly infectious disease that’s commonly found in babies anywhere between the age group of 9 months up to 5 years. This infectious, though mild disease, stems from the same virus as herpes. The type is generally Human Herpes Virus 6 or Human Herpes Virus 7.

The most common ways in which roseola can be contracted in infants is either through the mother during pregnancy or through the saliva of the infant. The presence of roseola is confirmed either by symptoms such as high fever and rashes or sometimes through blood tests.

What Causes Roseola in Babies and Toddlers?

In most cases, roseola is caused by the Human Herpes Virus 6. Another virus that has been known to cause roseola is Human Herpes Virus 7. These are also collectively known as roseolovirus. As mentioned earlier, this infection is mostly mild but highly infectious in most cases. The most common cause of roseola is exposure to the virus already present in the areas where the babies stay or play. Saliva or respiratory secretions are usually responsible for the contraction of this virus in infants. As roseola spreads mostly through personal contact, chewing on the same toy by both a healthy baby and an infected baby can spread this virus.

In some cases, the contraction of roseola may show only as a fever as opposed to fever and rashes. Parents and caregivers need to be careful, especially if the baby has come in contact with another child who has roseola.

What are the Symptoms of Roseola?

Explained below are the symptoms of roseola:

1. Fever

The most common symptom of roseola in babies is high fever (often up to 103°F) that is sudden and generally weakening. Roseola generally lasts for anywhere between 3 to 5 days.

2. Rashes


Rash that can appear throughout the body or in certain areas is another symptom of the sixth disease. The rash, red or pink in colour, may take time to subside. Commonly, the onset of the rash is seen on the chest that steadily progresses to the child’s abdomen and back, and finally to the arms and neck.

3. No Visible Symptoms

In many cases reported, symptoms of roseola have been seen to be absolutely different. When it’s said different, it generally means absent! Fever and roseola rash, the common symptoms determining this infection, may sometimes not show at all, making it harder to diagnose the disease.

4. Cold and Diarrhoea

Be on the lookout for roseola if your baby has come in contact with another child who has the sixth disease. The other tell-tale signs, in case the high fever or rash do not manifest, include a runny nose, sore throat, increased irritation in kids, cough, swollen lymph nodes, lack of appetite, and a mild case of diarrhoea.


Fever fits or febrile seizures are another symptom of this disease, in case it gets severe. Seek medical help immediately if roseola reaches this level of severity.

Risk Factors for Roseola

  • Roseola is most commonly contracted by older infants as the immune system is generally weaker. Since these infants have not had the time to develop and strengthen their antibodies completely, there is always a risk exposure to this virus will manifest into the disease. Younger infants may have less chance to contract the same owing to the antibodies that the mother creates in the uterus, protecting from several viruses.
  • As this virus can also be contracted by infants from their mothers during pregnancy, mothers may want to protect themselves and their infants by being more careful to the kind of environment they expose themselves to.

Diagnosis of Roseola

  • As has been discussed before, the common diagnosis of roseola is through high fever that spikes suddenly, usually accompanied by sore throat, cough, runny nose, and other signs that can be seen at the onset of any childhood disease.
  • The red or pink rash that follows the high fever, which manifests in some cases even without the fever, is another way in which roseola is diagnosed.
  • Since roseola can be contracted even with the absence of the above signs, doctors sometime resort to blood tests to diagnose if your baby has contracted roseola.

Complications of Roseola

  • Though roseola is generally a mild infection, a baby may have fever fits or febrile seizures in serious cases.
  • Your baby may also lose consciousness, lose control of bowel movement for some time, and display other usual signs of seizures.
  • Though such seizures are generally not life-threatening, medical help must be sought at once.
  • Roseola can have quite an adverse effect on the immune system. You must ensure to build a stronger immune system for your baby through a balanced diet in case he has been infected by roseola.

What are the available treatments for Roseola?

  • Like most other viruses, roseola has no hard and fast medication that can heal the disease after a course.
  • Medication can, however, be found in the form of antipyretics for the fever, generally found over the counter, such as acetaminophen. It is best to seek a doctor’s advice before giving any medication.
  • For babies with a bad dose of roseola, doctors may prescribe ganciclovir as it helps build a stronger immune system.

Home Remedies for Roseola

Since there is no specific way in which babies with roseola can be treated, it is best for the disease to subside on its own.

Nevertheless, since your baby will most certainly be cranky and weak with the symptoms, it is up to you to make the baby as comfortable as possible.

  • For starters, ensure that your baby is kept in clean and dry quarters.
  • Plenty of rest, plenty of fluids and plenty of affection can indeed make it easier for your baby to recover.
  • If your baby contracts roseola in summer, you can give him sponge baths with warm water. This will help keep the baby cool.

Home Remedies for Roseola

How Long Does Roseola Rash Last?

Though there is no fixed time till when the rash lasts, mothers can expect the rash to subside within 7 to 10 days. Of course, the sensitivity of the skin, as well as the usual level of treatment, determines the course of how long the rash lasts.

Is Roseola Contagious?

Yes, roseola may or may not to be harmful, but it’s a highly contagious disease. The common ways the disease can be contracted include exposure to contaminated surfaces, skin to skin contact, saliva, as well as respiratory secretions.

What is the Incubation Period?

The incubation period for roseola generally varies from one baby to another. Nevertheless, most studies show that roseola infantum incubation period can last up to 14 days in the worst cases, while mild cases can last anywhere from 5 to 7 days.

How Can Roseola Infantum be Prevented?

Roseola is one of those rare diseases that can neither be cured with set medication nor does it have any form of vaccination that can help prevent the contraction of the virus. Nevertheless, basic precaution may go a long way to avoid the virus.

For one, ensure that your baby is not exposed to children already suffering from roseola. In case your baby has contracted the virus, keep them away from harsh environmental conditions as it might damage the immunity further. Practising healthy habits for the entire household can help curtail the virus.

When to Call a Doctor

Calling a doctor at the earliest sign of roseola infection is always a good option. Watch out for the onset of the following signs:

  • Fever: High and sudden temperatures are an alert
  • Rash: Smooth or raised, reddish or pinkish in colour
  • Other symptoms: Runny noses, febrile seizures, loss of appetite, increased irritation, loss of energy, etc.

A common ailment among children, roseola does not normally pose a serious risk. However, it is important to monitor the child carefully, and seek a doctor’s opinion if the symptoms intensify.

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