What is measles?

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a viral infection (paramyxovirus). It causes cold-like symptoms and a rash but can also lead to more serious complications. Measles is usually a childhood infection, which is most common in children aged 1-4 who have not been immunised. However, it is possible to catch measles at any age.

What are the signs & symptoms of measles?

The first symptoms of a measles infection are usually a hacking cough, runny nose, high fever, and red eyes. Kids also may have Koplik's spots (small red spots with blue-white centres) inside the mouth before the rash starts.

The rash breaks out 3–5 days after symptoms start, sometimes along with a high fever up to 104°F (40°C). The red or reddish-brown rash usually begins as flat red spots on the forehead. It spreads to the rest of the face, then down the neck and torso to the arms, legs, and feet. The fever and rash slowly go away after a few days.

Is measles contagious?

Measles is very contagious. In fact, 9 out of 10 people who aren't vaccinated for measles will get it if they are near an infected person.

Controlling fever + relieving pain

Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used to reduce a high temperature (fever) and relieve any aches or pains if your child is uncomfortable. Liquid infant paracetamol can be used for young children. Aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years old.

Speak to your local CarePlus Pharmacist if you're not sure which medications are suitable for your child.

Drink plenty of fluids

If your child has a high temperature, make sure they drink plenty of fluids as they may be at risk of dehydration. Keeping hydrated may also help reduce throat discomfort caused by coughing.

Treating sore eyes

You can gently clean away any crustiness from your child's eyelids and lashes using cotton wool soaked in water. Closing curtains or dimming lights can help if bright light is hurting their eyes. 

Treating cold-like symptoms

If your child has cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose or a cough, there are a number of things you can do to help them feel more comfortable. For example, it might help your child if they sit in a hot, steamy bathroom. Or you could put a wet towel on a warm radiator to moisten the air, which may help ease your child's cough.

Drinking warm drinks, particularly ones containing lemon or honey, may also help to relax the airways, loosen mucus, and soothe a cough. Honey should not be given to babies under 12 months.


People who have already had measles are normally immune and they are unlikely to get it again. People who are not immune should consider the measles vaccine. If you think you or your child might have measles contact your GP. Do not visit busy places where you may spread the virus to other people.

Visit your CarePlus Pharmacy for more advice.