Rashes are a common rite of passage during childhood. Many illnesses expose children to both fevers and rashes, though fortunately most are of no great concern beyond the need to provide immediate comfort. Fevers and rashes should be reported to a health care provider to be certain that a correct diagnosis is made and proper treatment is provided.
Roseola is a common childhood virus that is caused by the human herpes virus 6 and occasionally human herpes virus 7. The child, typically 2 years of age or younger, will experience a sudden high fever, often over 103 degrees F, that lasts for 3 to 5 days. Sore throat, runny nose, cough and swollen lymph nodes may accompany the fever. MayoClinic.com describes the rash that follows the high fever as pink spots or patches that can be raised or not, and one that begins on the trunk of the body and moves to the neck and arms. It is not itchy or uncomfortable. Parents and caregivers should consult a health care provider if the fever goes over 103 degrees F or persists for longer than 7 days, or if the rash persists for more than 3 days.
Chicken pox, another common childhood disease, is caused by varicella zoster and is very contagious. Children are contagious 1 day prior to exhibiting symptoms and up to 5 days after the rash has appeared. According to the Cleveland Clinic, children with chicken pox typically experience a fever, fatigue, and possibly a headache as well as a stomach ache for 1 to 2 days. An extremely itchy skin rash that looks like small blisters is the hallmark sign of chicken pox. The blisters fill with a milky liquid, then burst and scab over, leaving skin that looks blotchy but eventually fades away. Chicken pox can cause severe problems, but these are rare. Parents and caregivers should should contact a health care provider if the fever persists or is above 103 degrees F.
Fifth disease is caused by parvovirus B19, a virus that's not associated with parvo virus that is of concern to puppies. It begins with a low-grade fever, headache, and a stuffy or runny nose. Adults and older children who contract the virus may also have accompanying joint swelling and pain. KidsHealth describes the rash from fifth disease as beginning a few days after the onset of fever and cold symptoms. Typically originating on the face, the rash appears as bright red and fades in color as it moves down the trunk of the body. As the rash fades, it takes on a lacy appearance and may be exacerbated by sunlight, heat, exercise or stress, and will take from 1 to 3 weeks to fade. Fifth disease is of no great concern to a healthy child or adult. However, becoming infected with parvovirus during pregnancy can cause complications for the fetus, so any expectant mother who is exposed to fifth disease should consult a health care provider.