Roseola is caused by a virus. It mainly affects children younger than age 2. The symptoms from the virus take about 7 to 15 days to develop. Roseola starts with a runny nose followed by a fever of 102 F or higher that lasts several days.

Within one day of the fever breaking, a rash appears on the torso and the face. The rash is composed of small, fairly flat pink spots. It may appear on the arms or legs, but not as much as the torso. The rash will go away within five days.

Your child can spread roseola during the fever, not during the rash. Although the illness is harmless, it can be difficult to know if the fever is caused by the roseola virus or a more serious infection.

How to make your child more comfortable

Give your child:

  • extra liquids
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®) as needed for pain. Follow the package directions for your child's weight or age

There is no treatment for the rash.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition. To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or "she" and "him" or "her."
Reviewed By: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 01/01/2016