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Exanthem Subitum

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is exanthem subitum?

Exanthem subitum is an infection caused by a virus. This condition is most common in children 2 years of age and younger.

What are the signs and symptoms of exanthem subitum?

Your child may have a fever for 3 to 5 days. He or she may be irritable, weak, or not want to eat. He or she may vomit or have diarrhea. In some cases, your child may have a seizure or become confused because of fever. Your child's lymph nodes may be swollen and tender. Small red spots appear on your child's chest and abdomen after his or her fever goes away. They are about the size of a penny and may be flat or raised. They are not itchy or painful. The rash may spread to the rest of his or her body.

How is exanthem subitum diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's symptoms. He or she will examine your child's skin. Your child may need any of the following:

  • Blood tests help give healthcare providers information about how your child's body is working.
  • Urine sample: A sample of your child's urine is collected and sent to a lab for tests.

How is exanthem subitum treated?

Your child's symptoms usually go away on their own. He or she may need any of the following:

  • Liquids: Liquids will help prevent dehydration. Ask how much your child should drink each day. Give your child water, juice, or broth instead of sports drinks. He or she may need an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS has the right amounts of water, salts, and sugar your child needs to replace body fluids. Ask your child's healthcare provider where you can get ORS.
  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help decrease your child's pain and fever. They are available without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child, and how often to give it. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage and ibuprofen can cause kidney damage if not used correctly.

What are the risks of exanthem subitum?

Your child can become dehydrated from the high fever and lack of appetite. Without treatment, your child's fever can get so high that it causes a seizure. The infection can spread to his or her blood or brain. This can be life-threatening.

How can I manage my child's symptoms?

  • Wash your hands and your child's hands often: Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.
  • Keep your child away from others while he or she has a fever: Your child may return to school or daycare when his or her fever is gone and he or she feels better.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child's symptoms get worse, even after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your child urinates less than usual or not at all.
  • Your child is not able to eat or drink.
  • Your child has a seizure or faints.
  • Your child is confused or sleepy and you cannot wake him or her up.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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