Dealing With Measles Rash

Measles rash is one of those symptoms that fortunately usually has a bark worse than its bite. Measles, a highly contagious disease, and one of the so-called childhood diseases, has nearly been eradicated in developed countries because of immunization practices. There are occasional outbreaks, and when this occurs, the victim usually experiences flu-like symptoms, including a cough and fever, before the measles rash occurs.

When one sees an image of a young child with measles, it would appear the child would be in agony, yet in most cases the itching due to the rash is mild, and in some instances hardly significant at all. There are instances however where a rash can cause itching that is bothersome, and may even be painful in places. The child with the rash has no doubt already gone through the worst part of the disease, the high fever and runny nose, as well as experiencing inflammation of the eyes and a sensitivity to light. It normally isn't until the 3rd or 4th day after the virus has first made its presence known that the measles rash makes its appearance, although in some instances the rash may not appear for a week or even two weeks following exposure to the virus.

The measles rash almost always appears on the face first, usually the forehead, and then spreads downward until the entire body is covered. A measles rash usually lasts 4 to 5 days. During this time the disease is especially contagious and anyone who has not had the disease or has not been vaccinated against it has a nearly 90% chance of contracting measles should they come in to contact with the person who has it.

Treatment, But No Cure - There isn't any cure for the disease, as it is caused by a virus, and the virus just has to run its course. If the rash itches, the usually treatment is to apply a topical antipruritic cream or ointment (an antipruritic is defined as a medication or agent that will stop or relieve itching). The more common antipruritics purchased over the counter are corticosteroids and antihistamines, usually sold under the label of itch relievers or preventives. There are home remedies one can use as well, in fact most any treatment that tends to soothe the skin, such as a sponge bath in tepid water, will have some effect in reducing itching. Not all itch relief medications may work, as measles' itching is due to a virus and is not quite the same as an allergic reaction.

As It Comes, It Leaves - The pattern of the measles rash is one of smaller blotches which over time often combine to form larger areas exhibiting the rash. The rash comes and goes in a first in, last out sequence, which is to say, it starts in the face and ends in the feet, then disappears from the feet first, and from the face last. Quite often, after the rash has disappeared, the skin may become dry and flaky, and some itching may result as a consequence. If this does occur it seldom lasts for very long, or is seldom very severe.

Treatment for the other measles symptoms usually involve bed rest in a darkened room, and a non-aspirin fever medication (aspirin should not be given to children or young people who have a viral illness), and consumption of fluids. Vitamin A supplements when given, have been shown to reduce the chance of complications developing, some of which can be quite severe and even fatal.

The bottom line?  Few people in the developed countries get measles these days, and while those who do will most certainly have a measles rash, the chances are the rash will not be particularly bothersome.