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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.

If your child has roseola, at first they may have:

  • a sudden high temperature
  • cold-like symptoms such as a sore throat, runny nose and a cough
  • loss of appetite
  • swollen eyelids and swollen glands in their neck

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

The rash:

  • is made up of pinkish-red spots, patches or bumps
  • starts on the chest, tummy and back, before spreading to the face, neck and arms
  • is not usually itchy or uncomfortable
  • normally fades and disappears within 2 days

Most children will only get roseola once.

Not sure if the rash is roseola?

Read more about other 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 children's 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

Important

Speak to a GP if you or your child has a weakened immune system and has had contact with someone with roseola. It can be serious.

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.