Measles rash is one of several childhood diseases that were once very common. Today, due to vaccines and improved medical treatments, it occurs with much less frequency.
Symptoms of Measles
The measles rash is just one symptom of the measles infection. The condition, which is sometimes called rubeola or morbilli, is a respiratory infection that also causes fever, cold or flu symptoms, diarrhea, and conjunctivitis. Another symptom is what is called Koplik's spots, which occur briefly in the mouth of the infected individual. Measles is a highly contagious infection that can sometimes result in serious health consequences.
Initial symptoms of the condition will be followed by the measles rash, which can last up to a week. The measles rash has a few characteristics which make it easy to spot.
- The skin rash usually begins on the scalp, face, and neck. It will then work its way down the torso and the limbs.
- Measles rash begins as a deep red rash and may darken over the course of the illness.
- The rash is generally characterized by blotchy skin that lasts for four or five days and may itch quite substantially.
Measles Rash Prevention
The best way to prevent measles rash is through immunization. Most children in the United States are immunized and are therefore unlikely to contract the infection. Infants younger than six months are generally thought to be protected by immunities passed to them from the mother.
Many public school systems require that incoming children be vaccinated for measles before attending school. To get your child vaccinated, talk to your doctor or state or county health department.
Treatment Is Limited
One of the reasons immunization is so heavily emphasized is because there are very few things medical professionals can do for a measles rash or infection. Though the symptoms can be treated with antibiotics or other medications, there is no actual cure for the condition.
Furthermore, there is some risk for children with measles to contract other, more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, croup, or encephalitis. These conditions can put your child at serious health risk.
What to Do When Someone Contracts Measles
If you or your child have contracted measles rash, you should contact a doctor immediately. He or she can prescribe medications that may ease the symptoms and the rash. Here are a few additional tips.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, especially if you have a fever.
- Use doctor-prescribed topical medications on the measles rash to help manage itch.
- Encourage children not to scratch rashy areas. Mittens or gloves can help prevent scratching during the night.
- Because the rash is so contagious, it is recommended that those with the condition stay home from work or school.
- To manage some symptoms and reduce fever, consider taking a non-aspirin pain reliever. Medical professionals do not recommend aspirin-based fever reducers, as there has been some evidence that they can cause medical complications during viral illnesses.
- Bed rest cannot be overstated when you or your child are battling the measles. Rest and sleep allow the body to recover and heal.
Rely on Your Physician for Help
The measles rash is a frustrating and uncomfortable condition that is easily avoidable with immunization. If you do contract the illness, follow your doctor's orders to heal and recover.