What is measles?
Measles is a lot less common in the UK than it used to be, thanks to the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. However, it does still affect children, so it’s worth knowing how to spot it.
Measles starts off with a range of initial symptoms, which might include:
- Cold like symptoms (such as cough and sneezing)
- Greyish white spots in the mouth and throat
- Red eyes and sensitivity to light
Next though, a blotchy rash of brownish-red spots will appear behind their ears, before spreading over their whole body. Your little one might also experience some aches and pains.
Measles is highly infectious, so it’s easy for the infection to spread to other people quickly if they haven’t been vaccinated. For this reason, if you think your child has measles, you should contact your GP.
How can I help my child feel better?
Although there’s no specific treatment for measles, we know there are lots of things you can do to help your little one feel better. And as long as there are no complications, your child’s symptoms will normally disappear within a couple of weeks.
So what can you do in the meantime?
The most important thing is to make sure they get plenty of good rest.
Measles also often causes children to feel feverish, so you should check their temperature regularly. Watch our video guide for tips on how to do this properly and advice on how to take care of your little one when they have a fever.
There’s lots you can do to help to ease a fever caused by measles:
- Keep them cool –undress them to their underwear. You can cover them with a cool, light sheet though.
- You can also ease their fever, as well as the discomfort of any aches and pains, with a paracetamol-based medicine like CALPOL® Infant Suspension, which is suitable for babies over 2 months, weighing over 4kg and not premature.
- Or you could try ibuprofen. CALPROFEN® Ibuprofen Suspension starts work on a fever in just 15 minutes and lasts up to 8 hours. It’s suitable for children over 3 months and weighing over 5kg.
For help deciding whether to choose paracetamol or ibuprofen, you should read our quick guide.
Some more simple tips
You can easily treat some of the other symptoms of measles at home too:
- Measles can make children very sensitive to the light, so try closing the curtains or turning lights down low.
- You might find your child has crustiness around their eyes. Use damp cotton wool to wipe it away, wiping from the inner to the outer eyelid. Use a new piece of cotton wool with each wipe.
- If your child has cold-like symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, placing a bowl of water in the room helps create a more humid atmosphere, which can provide some relief.
- MumpsIf your child is complaining of painful, swollen glands around their jaw, fever and difficulty swallowing, then they could have mumps.More about mumps
CALPOL® Infant Suspension
For babies and children aged 2 months to 6 years weighing more than 4kg and not premature.Tough on pain and fever. Gentle on the tummy.Full product details
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"My son has a high temperature, what should I do?"
When your child suffers from a fever, it can be a sign that his body is fighting an infection. We've put together a helpful fact sheet of things to do and what symptoms to look out for.