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Measles is an infection caused by a virus. Measles is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is also spread through direct contact, such as sharing cups or toys.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child has a seizure.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing or is breathing faster than usual.
  • Your child has a headache, drowsiness, and stiff neck.
  • Your child seems confused or less alert than usual.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child's cough lasts for more than 4 days.
  • Your child coughs up thick mucus.
  • Your child has an earache.
  • Anyone in your household develops a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


Your child may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give your child and how often to give it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Cough medicine is given to decrease your child's urge to cough and help him rest.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage your child's symptoms:

  • Give your child liquids as directed. Liquids help prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to give your child each day and which liquids are best for him. Give your child water, juice, or broth instead of sports drinks. He 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.
  • Help your child rest. He should rest as much as possible and get plenty of sleep.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier. A humidifier helps increase air moisture in your home. This may make it easier for your child to breathe and help decrease his cough.
  • Give your child a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. This will help your child feel better and have more energy. If he is not hungry or gets tired easily, try feeding him smaller amounts more often.
  • Protect your child's eyes. Keep the lights dim or give your child sunglasses to wear. This will help decrease pain caused by sensitivity to light.

Prevent measles:

  • Ask your child's healthcare provider about the MMR vaccine. This vaccine helps protect your child and others around him from measles, mumps, and rubella.
  • Prevent the spread of germs. Have your child stay away from others, especially anyone who is pregnant, or who has not had the MMR vaccine. Keep your child home from school or daycare until his healthcare provider says he can return.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

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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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Measles (Discharge Care)

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