Roseola vs Measles: What’s the Difference?

When your child gets sick, you worry. Sometimes you feel helpless. When rashes appear on your child’s skin, you become nervous. You panic and give your child medicine for cough and colds but it is not working! So what does your child have? Is it measles? Is it Roseola?




Roseola is also called baby measles since it only appears on children who are between ages six months to three years of age. 90% of children have been exposed to the disease with 33% actually having the virus. Although extremely rare, there have been records of older persons such as teens or adults being infected by this illness.


Most of the time Roseola is caused by a virus. The disease is airborne but it can be spread by human contact via saliva or the exhalation of the infected individual. If a child with Roseola shared the same utensils with the child who does not, the latter may be infected with the illness. Roseola cannot cause outbreaks but it doesn’t have a definite season and can be caught any time of the year.


The incubation period is 5-15 days. The symptoms are sudden high fever, seizures (known as febrile seizures), a reddish throat and a runny nose. As the fever starts to disappear around the fifth day, he or she will develop a rash with flat or raised rosy pink patches or spots that spreads all over the body. This rash usually starts on your child’s back, torso or chest then to the limbs. This rash will usually be there for three days then vanish. It rarely has complications but when it does develop, it affects the lymph nodes, spleen and liver.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A blood and urine test is done by the doctor to confirm the diagnosis. Roseola can be treated with ibuprofen, acetaminophen or sponge baths. Never give aspirin as this may cause further illness.


Prevention is difficult as there is no vaccine or sure way to prevent the disease. Common assumption is exposure during childhood may provide lifelong immunity.




Measles is a very contagious infection caused by a virus. This illness infects 20 million people worldwide every year. It is usually considered a childhood condition although adults may catch it. For children, this illness is considered serious and at times, fatal.


Measles is an airborne disease caused by a virus. It can be spread by contact with mucus, saliva or airborne droplets (such as cough or sneezing).


The incubation period is 7-18 days. Symptoms of the illness are high fever, diarrhea, sore throat, white spots inside the mouth, red eyes, muscular pain and a runny nose. The rash will appear three to five days after the fever appears. The rashes are small, red bumps that look like they are joined together. On the inside of the cheek are white spots called Koplik spots.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The doctor will confirm the diagnosis by examining the rash, checking the symptoms and doing a blood test. There is no definite medicine for measles. What your doctor will do is recommend acetaminophen for fever and muscular pain, vitamin A supplements to prevent complications, rest, hydrate with plenty of water and if you have one at home, use a humidifier for the throat and cough. Complications can arise and these can be fatal. Several of the most common ones are pneumonia, encephalitis (brain inflammation), low platelet count, ear infection and bronchitis.


Protect yourself from measles by immunization. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine can be given to kids at 12 months with the second dose between ages 4 to 6. Adults who have never been immunized can request the MMR vaccine from their doctor.


In Summary

Both illnesses are airborne and one person can be infected by bodily fluid contact such as sharing a spoon. With Roseola, as the fever goes away, the rashes appear while in measles, the rashes appear while the child is still feverish. Measles can be prevented in the form of a vaccine called (MMR) while MMR has no known sure way of prevention.


Get vaccinated. Get protected. Double check the symptoms and never panic.