Rubella (german measles) is a rare illness that causes a spotty rash. It usually gets better in about 1 week. It can be serious if you get it when you're pregnant.
Check if you or your child have rubella
The main symptom of rubella is a red or pink spotty rash.
The rash takes 2 to 3 weeks to appear after getting rubella.
Rubella can also cause:
- aching fingers, wrists or knees
- a high temperature of 38C or above
- sneezing and a runny nose
- a sore throat
- sore, red eyes
Important: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
At the moment it can be hard to know what to do if your child is unwell.
It's important to trust your instincts and get medical help if you need it.
Non-urgent advice: Call a GP if:
- you or your child have symptoms of rubella
Rubella can spread to others. It's best to call before you go in. The GP may suggest talking over the phone.
Urgent advice: Call your midwife, maternity unit, or GP immediately if you're pregnant and have either:
- a new rash
- been in close contact with someone who has rubella
Rubella can be serious during pregnancy.
How to look after yourself or your child
Rubella usually gets better in about 1 week.
It can help to:
- get plenty of rest
- drink lots of fluids, like water or squash
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen (do not give aspirin to children under 16)
Stay off nursery, school, or work for 5 days after the rash appears.
Also try to avoid close contact with pregnant women.
Rubella is infectious from 1 week before the symptoms start and for 4 days after the rash first appears.
How to avoid spreading or catching rubella
Rubella spreads in coughs and sneezes.
To reduce the risk of spreading or catching it:
wash your hands often with soap and warm water
use tissues when you cough or sneeze
throw used tissues in the bin
do not share cutlery, cups, towels, clothes, or bedding
Rubella in pregnancy
Rubella is very rare in pregnancy. But if you get it when you're pregnant, rubella could harm your baby.
It can cause:
- loss of the baby (miscarriage)
- serious problems after the baby is born – such as problems with their sight, hearing, heart, or brain
The risk is highest if you get rubella early in pregnancy.
There's not thought to be a risk to your baby if you get rubella after week 20 of your pregnancy.
Get vaccinated against rubella
The MMR vaccine is offered to all children in the UK. 2 doses can give lifelong protection against measles, mumps, and rubella.
Ask at your GP surgery if you're not sure you or your child have had the vaccine. They can give it for free on the NHS.
Page last reviewed: 18 September 2018
Next review due: 18 September 2021