A few weeks ago, lil man developed a high fever. It lasted about three days. I would have been quite concerned had it not been for a brief conversation with a friend I had during our annual BBQ only five days prior.

My friend Jo told me her daughter developed a fever for several days which was then followed by a rash. After taking her daughter to our shared pediatrician they came to the conclusion she might have roseola.

Jo’s daughter doesn’t attend daycare. In fact, other than her own sibling, the only people she really sees daily are her parents and grandparents. My son doesn’t attend daycare either. He’s home with his great grandmother and me daily. So, where is it that they contracted this strange virus? We’ll never know.

So, what is roseola? 

It’s a virus that affects infants and toddlers. The age range seems to differ from a few websites I’ve seen. One said 3 months to 3 year olds, another said 3 months to 4 year olds and some say 6 months to 2 year olds with the average being 6 months to 1 year olds.

Regardless of the discrepancy, they all agree it’s fairly harmless, starts with a high fever that could be as high as 103 degrees Fahrenheit and breaks out in red rash (flat or bumpy) when the fever breaks 3-7 days later. Once the fever breaks and the rash appears, the worst is pretty much over.

What are the symptoms?

Aside from the fever other symptoms that might occur are lack of appetite & irritability. Who wouldn’t be when you feel miserable?

My son only wanted milk the entire time and two weeks later he still didn’t really want any real food. The pediatrician said as long as he was get hydrated and drinking milk it was really all we could do and he was fine. He lost some weight during this time, but is otherwise healthy. Dr. Sears indicates other symptoms you might see are: swelling of the glands in the front and back of the neck, runny nose, cough, ear pain, vomiting or diarrhea with this illness and that some children might not even have the rash in the end.

In rare cases, a sore throat, stomach ache, vomiting, diarrhea and fever seizures occur.

I had another friend who’s eldest had roseola a couple years ago. His fever was so high, his hair fell out as a way for the body to cool itself down. He developed a fever recently had similar symptoms to roseola recently, but developed no rash. After a few days of fever, he was fine.

What causes roseola?

It’s caused by two viruses and belongs in the herpes family even though it doesn’t cause any cold sores or genital infections. It spreads through droplets of of fluid. So sneezing, coughing, laughing or talking can all spread the virus from child to child during the non-symptom phase. So, basically, you never know how your child will get it because the person they could catch it from will likely look very healthy.

How can you tell it’s roseola?

After a physical exam with the pediatrician, they can conclude it’s roseola if/when your child breaks out in rash after the fever period. That’s pretty much the tell-tale sign from  my understanding.

After 24 hours of fever, we took lil man to the pediatrician just to be on the safe side since he’s had a history of UTI which resulted him going to the ER at 6 months. You can read that story here.

Our pediatrician did a complete check up from head to toe. She checked his ears, eyes, throat, chest… everything like she would have during any wellness visit. Everything was fortunately clear and she said to wait it out for another couple days. If it didn’t clear over the weekend, then we were to return back to the office.

Fortunately, two days later the fever broke and the rash came out. It was an absolute relief for me.

If you want to read up on Roseola, here are some resources:

While all the resources I’ve read give a list of symptoms of when you would definitely call the pediatrician, my rule of thumb is this – if you’re worried – call your pediatrician. Let them check your child. If nothing, it will make you feel better, give the pediatrician record of it and put you at ease to hear it straight from the doctor and all it costs you is time.

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