What is Roseola?
A mild viral infection due to human herpesvirus 6 or human herpesvirus 7 is known as roseola. It mostly occurs in children between the ages of 6 months to 3 years, but in some cases, it may also occur in adults. This infection manifests itself in the form of a fever which is contagious. However, it is not considered a serious illness as the body can heal on its own over a period. While the fever gradually subsides and becomes non-contagious, rashes begin to appear on the last one or two days, these are known as roseola rash.
Roseola in Children
Roseola can occur in children at any given time of the year. Under such conditions the child experiences high fever and rashes begin to appear when the temperature returns to normal. Since the condition is contagious until the fever subsides, minor local outbreaks may be seen as the cause of this infection in children. The rashes appear as soon as the temperature gets back to normal.
Symptoms in Children
- High fever
- Distinctive rashes/ pink spots appear when fever subsides
- Mild upper respiratory illness
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
- Pink spots turn white when touched
- Rashes on the face, arms, legs, neck
- Febrile seizures (convulsions caused due to high fever), which include:
- Loss of control over bowels or bladder
- Twitching or jerking of arms, legs and face for 2 – 3 minutes
Treatment for Children
Usually, a physical examination by the doctor is enough to examine an individual affected by roseola, but in some cases, a blood test could also be conducted for the diagnosis. Once the doctor has confirmed a roseola infection, ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be given to treat the fever. Anti viral drugs such as ganciclovir or foscarnet can be prescribed in severe cases where the infection occurs because of the child’s weak immune system.
In case of Seizures
Children affected by roseola have a high fever. Seizures may be caused due to the high fever. When the seizure occurs, it is advisable to loosen any clothing around the neck and turn the child on one side to allow the saliva flow out of the mouth to avoid choking. All sharp objects must be removed to prevent injury during the convulsion. Nothing should be put inside the mouth and the child should not be left unattended at any point during the seizure.
Causes of Roseola Rash in Adults
- Human hosts – The viruses that cause roseola are human herpesvirus 6 or human herpesvirus 7. The human body acts as a host to both these viruses. Therefore, it is near impossible to isolate the source of this viral infection. It makes people more susceptible to this infection by their mere interaction with other human beings.
- Seasonal infection – Most of the bacterial or viral infections that affect people have a favorable season during the year. However, unlike other viral infections roseola occurs throughout the year. Without any seasonal variation, roseola gets much more time to affect a larger number of people.
- Incubation period – The Incubation period refers to the time between the exposure to the virus and onset of the symptoms. The incubation period for roseola is about 9 – 14 days. Also, the infection is contagious. Therefore, an individual who does not show any symptoms has sufficient time to pass on the infection to others.
- Oral secretion – The infection can be transmitted from one person to another through droplets of fluid. The infection can be transferred when a person talks, coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms in Adults
- Swelling of the eyelid
- Loss of appetite
- Mild diarrhea
- Sore throat
- Swollen glands
- Mild cough
- Runny nose
- Meningoencephalitis (infection of the brain tissues and its surrounding area)
- Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
- Wash hands at regular intervals and avoid contact with those having fever
- Principles of cleanliness and hygiene must be followed at all places
- Items that could be easily contaminated such as towels, toys, bed sheets, etc. must be kept clean and used separately by individuals
- Examination of the skin, especially the area affected by rashes
- Blood tests
- Checking for fever
- Ruling out other possibilities such as cold, ear infection, strep throat, etc.
Treatment of Roseola Rash
- Medication: Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be taken to reduce the fever. Unfortunately, there are no medicines that help to treat roseola directly because it heals on its own. Antibiotics cannot be given for the infection as they are only meant for bacterial infections while roseola is a viral infection.
- Bathing: Bathing the individual can help in lowering the fever by a few degrees. However, if it is observed that bathing is causing the patient to shiver and feel uncomfortable, the person can be sponged instead.
- Clothing: Loose and light clothing must be used for the individual. Wearing too many layers of clothing could increase the body temperature. Moreover, there are chances that seizures may occur due to high fever; at that time it is advisable that the clothes must be loose and comfortable.
- Hydration: The body can get dehydrated easily during roseola infection. Adequate quantity of water must be taken to avoid dehydration. Moreover, since there are no medicines to treat roseola, it is recommended that the person drinks water in large quantities to wash out the toxins from the body.
When to visit a Doctor?
Although, roseola is a mild infection that can heal on its own over time, there are certain conditions which require medical supervision. Doctors must be consulted in case:
- Children stop drinking fluids
- Rashes have not improved within 3 days
- Child seems ill or sleepy most of the times
- Fever lasts longer than 7 days
- High fever without improvement in the symptoms
The same applies to adults, if the symptoms get worse and the person feels increasingly uneasy, they must seek medical help.