Treating measles 

There's no specific treatment for measles, but the condition usually improves within 7-10 days. Your GP will probably suggest taking things easy at home until you're feeling better.

Stay away from work or school for at least four days from when the measles rash first appears, to reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

You should also try to avoid contact with people who are more vulnerable to the infection, such as young children and pregnant women.

Relieving symptoms

If the symptoms of measles are causing discomfort for you or your child, there are some things you can do to treat these while you wait for your body to fight off the virus.

Controlling fever and 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 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 fluid because 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, putting a wet towel on a warm radiator will 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. However, honey should not be given to babies under 12 months.

Spotting signs of serious illness

If you or your child has measles, you should keep an eye out for any signs of the serious complications that can sometimes develop.

Signs of a more serious problem include:

Go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department or call 999 for an ambulance if you or your child develop any of these symptoms.

Read more about the complications of measles.

Page last reviewed: 11/09/2015

Next review due: 11/09/2017