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Roseola

Roseola is a very common infection that mainly affects babies and toddlers. It usually causes a high temperature and a rash. You can normally look after your child at home and they should recover within a week.

At first, your child may have:

These symptoms last 3 to 5 days, before a rash appears.

The rash:

The roseola rash is made up of pinkish-red spots, patches or bumps

Most children will only get roseola once.

Not sure if the rash is roseola?

Read more about other causes of rashes in babies and children.

You can usually look after your child or baby at home. The infection should pass within a week.

Do

  • let your child rest if they feel unwell
  • make sure they drink lots of fluids
  • give them children's paracetamol or ibuprofen if a high temperature makes them feel uncomfortable – check the dose on the bottle

Don't

  • do not cover them up in too many clothes or bedclothes
  • do not give aspirin to under-16s
  • do not combine ibuprofen and paracetamol, unless a GP tells you to
  • do not give paracetamol to a child under 2 months
  • do not give ibuprofen to a child under 3 months or under 5kg
  • do not give ibuprofen to children with asthma

Non-urgent advice: Get an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if your child:

  • is under 3 months old and has a temperature of 38C or higher
  • is 3 to 6 months old and has a temperature of 39C or higher
  • has a high temperature that's lasted for 5 days or longer
  • is refusing fluids or feeds
  • is not their usual self and you're worried
  • has a high temperature that does not come down with paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • is showing signs of dehydration – such as nappies that are not very wet, sunken eyes, and no tears when they're crying

Important

If you or your child have a weakened immune system and have had contact with someone with roseola, speak to a GP. It can be serious

Non-urgent advice: Call 999 or go to A&E if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • acting confused, slurred speech or not making sense
  • blue, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue
  • a rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it, the same as meningitis
  • difficulty breathing, breathlessness or breathing very fast

How long will your child have to stay home?

Roseola is thought to be most contagious when a child has a high temperature.

Once the high temperature has passed you do not need to keep your child away from nursery if they're feeling well enough to attend. There's no need to wait until the rash disappears.