Measles

This is an infectious viral disease, characterised by small red dots that occur all over the body.

What to look for

There are two stages of this disease. In the first stage, your child will have cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, eyes, and mouth, cough and a husky voice. The child’s eyes may be red and watery. There may also be a high fever and sneezing.

The second stage (usually from third or fourth day), the child’s temperature falls and the characteristic rash appears. This is usually a reddish colour with raised spots. The spots group together in patches. Then the temperature rises on the day the rash appears. The skin may start to peel after 2 or 3 days.

Measles is highly contagious and is a very severe childhood disease. (Adults can get measles but it is rare). Immunisation is compulsory for children as this disease can have serious complications which can be fatal.

Causes

Like most viruses, measles is spread in droplets of saliva which is carried through the air when an infected child coughs or sneezes. Your child is most contagious 2 days before symptoms appear, although he is still contagious for 4 days after the rash begins.

Traditional Treatment

If you suspect that your child has measles, you should always consult your child's doctor, who will wish to monitor your child’s progress through the disease. Your child should not return to school until a week after the rash appears.

Bed rest, a soft-foods diet, and increased liquid intake are usually prescribed by most doctors until the symptoms subside.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Always see your conventional doctor as this disease can have serious consequences if not treated.

Herbal Therapies - No herbs treat measles specifically. However, a number of preparations may help alleviate the symptoms. Teas of yarrow (Achillea millefolium), catnip (Nepeta cataria), and linden (Tilia spp.) may help reduce fever. An eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) eyewash or a chamomile (Matricaria recutita) compress may ease the eyes. No herbs treat measles specifically. However, a number of preparations may help alleviate the symptoms. Teas of yarrow (Achillea millefolium), catnip (Nepeta cataria), and linden (Tilia spp.) may help reduce fever. An eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) eyewash or a chamomile (Matricaria recutita) compress may ease the eyes.

Personal Care

  • Keep your infected child away from all other children and yourselves if you have not been immunised against measles or if you have never had the disease.

  • Calamine lotion will relieve the itching.

  • A humidifier can ease a bad cough.

Prevention

Many alternative practitioners feel it is better for an otherwise healthy child to contract measles than to be vaccinated, because fighting the illness strengthens the immune system. However, it is normally highly recommended that all children be immunised in Australia.

See Immunisation

When to seek further professional advice

  • you think your child has measles.