Measles used to be very common. There was a time before vaccines were available when parents wanted their children to have measles early so they wouldn’t have it later in life when it could be dangerous.

Sometimes vaccines fail and sometimes children get measles against all odds, but when children get it, it’s seldom, if ever, life threatening although it can be uncomfortable.

Measles is caused by a virus, which means that antibiotics and other medicines are, for the most part, useless against it. If your child gets the measles, the best you can do is keep him as comfortable as possible and wait it out.

The virus starts like many other viruses. The child will have a slight fever, runny nose, perhaps a sore throat and sensitive eyes. It’s very similar to the first days of a cold.

After two or three days, your child may feel worse. He will begin to show a rash, usually first on the face, but maybe behind his ears and into the hairline. The rash consists of small bumps and spots that show in clusters. If the clusters are close together, they give the skin a mottled look.

The rash will soon spread, covering first the face, then the arms, abdomen and trunk, eventually spreading to the thighs, legs and feet.

It will begin to itch, so use an antihistamine cream to control the itchiness and keep your child from scratching. Scratching can cause other infections to set in as well as scarring the skin.

Your child will have a fever at this point, but don’t try to cool him by letting him chilled. If he gets too cool, the rash may subside, but other symptoms will become worse.

The fever will increase after the first two or three days, so keep an eye on it and if it gets over 103, it needs to be treated. Acetaminophen is usually recommended by doctors. If this doesn’t get his fever down, call the doctor or take him in to emergency care.

Other symptoms that may occur include a dry cough, diarrhea, white spots inside the mouth, loss of appetite, fatigue and listlessness. Your child may have all of the symptoms or only a few.

Measles last between one and two weeks after the rash starts. Some children will want to move around, watch TV, read and play some quiet games. If the light seems to hurt his eyes, keep the room on the dark side.

Once your child has measles, he will never have them again.

This article is for informational purposes only. You should contact your doctor with specific concerns or changes to your or your child’s health.