Measles symptoms in children

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Measles was once the leading cause of death among young children. It is vital that you are familiar with the signs of measles.

Before the availability of the measles vaccine and the MMR vaccine, the cases of measles and its complications were high.

What are the signs?

Around 10-12 days after being exposed to an individual infected by measles, children without immunity to the disease can develop symptoms such as:

  • Cough
  • High fever that often starts around 101 degrees F and peaks at 103-105 degrees F
  • Runny nose
    Around 2-4 days after the fever and other symptoms start, the child will end up with the distinctive measles rash.
  • Light sensitivity
  • Pink eye without drainage
  • Koplik spots – these are miniature, bright red spots with a bluish-white middle dot that are often found within the mouth, interior of the cheeks and soft palate

Around 2-4 days after the fever and other symptoms start, the child will end up with the distinctive measles rash.

Close look on the measles rash

The measles rash has certain characteristics that make it hard to distinguish from the viral rashes.

In most cases though, the measles rash starts on the face and head of the child.

Other things notable about the reddened, blotchy rash include:

  • The rash can spread down the body over the next 3 days, eventually reaching the hands and feet after starting around the hairline
  • Lasts around 5-6 days
  • After 3-4 days, the rash might not blanch anymore under pressure
  • The areas where the rash is severe might undergo a fine desquamation or peeling
  • Once the measles rash starts to settle, it fades in the same order that it started. It starts to subside around the hairline followed by the face first and then the trunk and the extremities.

If a child has measles, the fever typically persists while they develop the rash. It is important to note that the child might appear sick during the initial few days that the rash manifested and will not feel better until a few days later as the fever breaks.

What are the other symptoms?

Aside from fever and the prodromal signs and the distinctive measles rash, children with the disease often have:

  • Diarrhea
  • Poor appetite
  • Enlarged glands or generalized lymphadenopathy

Take note that the other measles symptoms are brought about by complications from being sick and might include ear pain, seizures and difficulty breathing.

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