What Does The Measles Rash Looks Like?
The City of Toronto is in panic mode. My office receives hundreds of calls and emails per day from concerned parents looking for more information on how to protect their children. One common question: what does the measles rash look like? How do I know if my child has the measles rash or another one like a roseola rash?
Measles signs and symptoms appear 10-14 days after exposure to the virus. These include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
- Koplik’s spots – tiny white spots with bluish-white centers on a red background found inside the lining of the cheek
- Measles rash
The infection occurs in predictable stages over 2-3 weeks:
Infection and incubation
- For the first 10 to 14 days after infection, the measles virus incubates. There are no signs of the illness, though the person may be contagious to others
Nonspecific signs and symptoms
- Measles infection starts with a fever, cough, runny nose, pink eye and sore throat. Typical viral infection symptoms.
Acute illness and rash
- Large, flat blotches that often flow into one another.
- If you look closely you may see many small red dots.
- Some can be raised but mostly they are flat.
- Usually the rash starts around the hairline or behind the ears, spreading down to the toes.
- When the rash resolves, it resolves from the head to the toes.
When is a person with measles contagious?
- Starting four days before the rash appears and ending when the rash has been present for four days.
- This means a person with measles is contagious before any symptoms are present, or during the period with mild viral infection symptoms
When to see a doctor
Call your doctor if you think you or your child may have been exposed to measles or if you or your child has a rash resembling measles.
Remember – getting the MMR vaccine will provide >95% protection against the measles virus and will help protect others that cannot yet get the vaccine.