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Measles in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What is measles?

Measles is a disease caused by a virus. The virus is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is also spread through direct contact, such as sharing cups or toys. Measles can become serious, especially in children 5 years or younger or who have a weak immune system.

What are the signs and symptoms of measles?

Your child may develop a rash about 2 to 3 days after he or she starts to feel sick. The measles rash usually begins on the face and head and then spreads down to the legs and feet. It may first appear as tiny spots that later join to make large patchy bumps. The rash usually disappears in 5 to 8 days, and may cause the skin to peel. Your child may also have any of the following:

How is measles diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider may be able to diagnose measles based on your child's symptoms and a physical exam. Your child may need a blood test to confirm the infection.

What can I do to manage my child's symptoms?

Measles cannot be cured. The following may help relieve your child's symptoms:

What can I do to prevent measles?

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my child's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

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Further information

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