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Roseola infantum, also known as exanthem subitum, is a contagious childhood disease caused by a virus. The virus that causes roseola belongs to the family of herpes viruses. This disease mainly affects young children between the age of 6 months and 2 years. It usually appears ten days after contact with the virus. Note that we sometimes refer to a roseola rash when skin lesions suggestive of roseola appear on the skin. In adults, roseola is in the form of small pink spots, separated from each other and usually disappearing within a few hours. It occurs mainly in cases of poisoning or infectious diseases such as syphilis.


The symptoms of roseola are:
  • high fever, usually developing over 3 to 5 days;
  • then, the appearance, usually on the trunk, of small, separated pale pink spots;
  • fever tends to disappear at the onset of skin lesions.


The diagnosis of roseola is made through a physical examination and observation of symptoms. Fever and the appearance of skin lesions with the disappearance of fever are fairly typical. No further examinations are necessary.


Roseola is a contagious disease, so care should be taken to prevent its spreading. This benign infection disappears without treatment. The patient must rest and stay hydrated, because the risk of dehydration due to high fever is possible. Antipyretic drugs such as paracetamol are prescribed during phases of fever. During the phase of eruption, no treatment is put into place. Antibiotics are ineffective, given the viral origin of the disease.


There is a very highly recommended vaccination that combines rubella, mumps and measles. It prevents the disease with two injections, the first given between 9 and 12 months and the second at the age of 2.