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.
Check if your child has roseola
At first, your child 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.
- 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 causes of rashes in babies and children.
What to do if your child has roseola
You can usually look after your child or baby at home. The infection should pass within a week.
- 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
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
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
Immediate action required: 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.
Page last reviewed: 07 January 2020
Next review due: 07 January 2023