Measles (rubeola) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. It causes a red, blotchy rash. It is also known as 10-day measles or red measles. It’s a very contagious illness.
The measles virus lives in the mucus in the nose and throat. It’s spread from one child to another through contact with fluid from the nose and throat. It is also spread by an infected child coughing and sneezing.
It may take 7 to 14 days for a child to develop symptoms of measles after contact with the virus. A child is contagious about 4 days before the rash breaks out and 4 days after the rash develops. A child may pass the virus to others before you know he or she has it.
The early phase of the illness lasts between 1 and 4 days. Symptoms are like those of an upper respiratory infection. The most common symptoms include:
After 2 or 3 days of the above, other symptoms include:
The red rash starts as small lesions that combine into one big rash. After 3 to 7 days, the rash will start to go away. It then leaves a brown-colored area and peeling skin.
The symptoms of measles can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Antibiotics are not used to treat this illness.
The goal of treatment is to help ease symptoms. Treatment may include:
Your child's healthcare provider may tell you to give your child vitamin A in 2 doses to help prevent eye damage and blindness.
Talk with your healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines. Don't give ibuprofen to a child younger than 6 months old, unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Don't give aspirin to children. Aspirin can cause a serious health condition called Reye syndrome.
If your child was exposed and has not had a measles vaccine, your child's healthcare provider may give the MMR vaccine within 72 hours. Or the provider may give immune globin (IG) within 6 days of measles exposure. These are to help prevent the disease.
Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.
The most serious complications from measles include:
The measles vaccine is usually given as part of a combination vaccine with mumps and rubella. It’s called the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine is given in 2 doses. The first dose is given between ages 12 months to 15 months old. A second dose is given between ages 4 and 6 years. The second dose needs to be given at least 4 weeks after the first dose. During an outbreak, your child may need another booster shot.
Other ways to prevent the spread of measles include:
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
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