1.22.2015

roseola

I wanted to share something that we recently went through with Olivia in hopes that it may shed some light on a frustrating situation for another parent, or bring peace of mind to you if you go through the same thing and feel that you aren’t getting the answers you are looking for.

Let’s back up and start at Sunday.

SUN 1.18 || For a girl that is never sick, Olivia woke from her afternoon nap with a temperature of 100.4 … Even for me, as an RN, it was a bit alarming because it seemed to come out of nowhere. I am home all week with Olivia and the only children she is exposed to are in the nursery at church when I go to my weekly bible study {our Mama + Me class hasn't started yet}, which the past week consisted of 3 kiddos her age who seemed completely healthy. Does anyone else quickly glance around the nursery when you're dropping your little one off, just for peace of mind? After a quick dose of Tylenol and some ice water, her temperature dropped back to normal. Hooray. 

MON 1.19 AM || I woke her Monday morning {after she had slept 12 hours straight, which is long even for her} and discovered she had another 100.4 fever; same measures were taken. Her energy level was lower than usual and she had a very small appetite but didn’t appear ‘sick’ in the traditional sense. As I got her dressed on Monday after her morning bath, I noticed about 8-10 small red bumps on her stomach in an area of about 3-4 inches. Nowhere else. Chicken pox? Or just a random rash? How would she have gotten chicken pox? I didn’t quite know but thought I would watch it. As long as it wasn’t getting worse, I wasn’t too concerned.

MON 1.19 PM || She woke from her afternoon nap again with a fever – 100.3 / Spots were spreading across her entire stomach – flat, red. She didn’t appear to be itching them and I’m not entirely sure she even knew they were there. But I knew, and I set up an appointment for Wednesday morning at our clinic just to confirm it was nothing serious.

TUES 1.20 || No fever when she woke. Last sign of fever was Monday PM. Appetite still low and energy level low. Spots spread across entire stomach and a few random spots on arms/legs. Not itchy, bumpy or fluid-filled but spreading. Still no idea what could be going on because it didn’t add up to be chicken pox but I wasn’t familiar with any rashes that ran their course the way this one was.

WED 1.21 AM || Wake. Bath. Getting her dressed for her doctor appointment and noticed splotchy pink rash all over her forehead, extending behind her ears. This was new. Looked nothing like the spots on her stomach and this literally came up over night. Head into the doctor and as I’m getting her undressed, notice the same blotchy, pink rash all over her neck/stomach. Nurse mentions first that it looks like measles. Great, that’s comforting. After waiting anxiously over an hour to see her actual doctor, the diagnosis ‘Scarlet Fever’ is brought up. In simple terms, strep throat + severe red rash head to toe {although the blotchy rash hadn’t spread to her arms or legs yet}. The treatment is a host of antibiotics {something we really try to stay away from} and comfort measures. However, after two rapid strep tests that both came back negative, that couldn’t be it. If the strep bacteria was in her body causing the scarlet fever {it gets its name from the appearance of the red rash}, it would have shown up on the tests. Back at square one.

WED 1.21 PM || After spending the entire afternoon at the clinic, the doctor came to the conclusion that ‘Olivia has a viral infection that she is having an allergic reaction to’ – she put her on 7ml of Benadryl every 6 hours and said within 2-3 days, it would be completely gone. To be honest, I walked out of the clinic more frustrated and confused than when I walked in. I had absolutely no peace with the diagnosis and even less peace with giving her Benadryl. We try to steer clear of traditional medicine as much as possible because so much of the health care system {and this is coming from a RN!} is all about a quick fix – slapping a diagnosis on a child and prescribing them something. My gut told me there was more to the story and that it just wasn’t adding up. If she had a virus like the one the doctor was concluding it was, she would have more symptoms than just a rash. She hasn’t really appeared sick at all – just low energy and low appetite, which can often be accounted for due to growth spurts. Fever had been gone since Monday and she didn’t show any other classic symptoms. If it was an allergic reaction, wouldn’t she be bothered by it? Wouldn’t she be itching it?

So, reluctantly I gave her a dose of Benadryl on Wednesday night before putting her to bed. I continued to think about what I was missing and prayed that God would show me what was actually going on. I found peace in knowing He is our Ultimate Physician and that Olivia was in His hands through all of this. As a Mama, it’s heartbreaking to see your child in any kind of pain, especially when you don’t have a clue what is actually causing it and therefore no real, permanent solution.

THUR 1.22 AM || Second dose of Benadryl upon waking. Breakfast + bath. Then I noticed the rash had spread all the way down her legs. It appeared to be getting worse, not better. I knew the diagnosis was wrong and Benadryl wasn’t the answer. She was more irritable than before and now, thanks to me, extremely sleepy from the Benadryl. What could this be? I was so frustrated that I asked Dustin to come home from work to help me out. On his way, he called a friend/mentor of ours from church to ask for prayer and insight {he also has a daughter named Olivia}. Well, that phone call was the answer to our prayers and we now knew what was going on.

Roseola.

Roseola is a {generally} mild infection that affects most children by age 2. The Mayo Clinic states, “Roseola is so common that most children have been infected with roseola by the time they enter kindergarten.” The condition typically causes several days of a high fever, and then when the fever finally breaks, a rash covering most of the body. 

It finally made sense. Two days of a high fever which started very suddently. Once the fever subsides, a rash typically appears. It may consist of small pink spots or patches. The spots are generally flat but some may be raised. The rash, which isn’t itchy or uncomfortable, can last several hours to several days.

Other S&S include: fatigue, irritability in infants/children, mild diarrhea and decreased appetite. Check, check, check and check. There is no specific treatment for roseola; it is just something that, like most things, needs to run its course. Allowing your child to get plenty of rest and helping them stay hydrated is especially important. The good news? Once your child has had roseola, he/she will have lifelong immunity to it, which is important because it is spread easily {through respiratory droplets}. I am guessing a child in the nursery last Tuesday had it and the parent didn’t even know it, especially if it was between the fever disappearing and the rash starting. Some children don’t even develop a rash, so it may go completely unnoticed.

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Sometimes the most alarming thing is not knowing what is going on with your child. My heart ached for a diagnosis so badly, just so I would know what to do and how to make it better. This past week taught me {even more than I already knew} to ALWAYS trust my gut. I knew it wasn’t anything the doctor suggested it was, and I saw that often times {especially with childhood rashes}, they are playing as much of a guessing game as a medical professional as I am as a parent, because there are just so many types of rashes and countless causes.

As I sit here writing this, I am feeling so grateful for friends who have older children and can shed light on something we are going through now that they went through when their children were Olivia’s age.


Olivia is now sound asleep napping, and I have officially thrown out the Benadryl. Modern medicine has its place but in this instance, it just didn’t fit. This afternoon I spoke with my naturopath who reminded me that rashes can actually be a good thing – they are a sign that the body is getting rid of something bad. In the same way, a fever indicates that the body is fighting something off, so while it’s important to control the fever, by completely suppressing it 24-7 with medicine, you aren’t allowing the body to develop immunity to whatever the body is trying to fight off. The body is so complex and even as an RN, sometimes I am clueless when it comes to my own child. Convenient, huh?

I hope this brings understanding if you have a similar experience. I purposely chose not to post pictures of Olivia’s rash but if you are curious as to what roseola looks like, simply do an image search online for it. I am in no way diagnosing your child and I still suggest that he/she see his primarily physician, but I wanted to share our story incase you are walking the same path, now or in the future. I also hope that if any of you do experience something similar, you are able to trust your gut like I did, take a second look at the big picture, and spend your time caring for your child at peace, knowing it’s mild and will soon pass. 

2 comments:

  1. My baby boy got it in December when he was 11 months old. His fever got up to 103 which was pretty scary! I was very thankful for his doctor because when we took him in she was willing to run a bunch of tests on him to figure out what was going on. After every test came back negative she sent us home with orders to do Tylenol and ibuprofen for the fever and then come back in two days for a follow up. By the time we went back in his fever had broke and he had the rash. The first thing she said when she entered the room was that he had Roseola. It was such a relief to find out for sure what was going on! ...We also got an information print out on it that said that Roseola can stay dormant in adult saliva, so it could have come from me sharing food with him or from the church nursery. Glad you got it figured out, it's so hard watching our littles be sick and not having an answer!

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  2. My son had this back in October when he was 14 months old and his fever spiked to 104.3! I was so worried he would end up having a febrile seizure with his temperature up so high. Luckily that didn't happen! His fever lasted 3 or 4 days before it finally broke and his rash appeared. Once he got the rash he was totally back to acting like normal. The days where he had the fever were miserable for him though. It was so hard to watch! I'm sorry you (and your little) had to go through it! And that your doctor didn't seem to know what it was...

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