What does Rubella (measles) look like?

What is rubella (measles)?

How measles looks

Rubella (measles) is an infection caused by a virus that grows in the cells lining the throat and lungs. It is a very contagious disease that is transmitted through the air every time someone infected coughs or sneezes. People who get measles develop symptoms such as fever, cough, and runny nose. A telltale rash is the hallmark of the disease. If measles is not treated, it can lead to complications such as ear infection, pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

The first signs

How measles looks

Within seven to 14 days after becoming infected with measles, your first symptoms will appear. The first symptoms feel like a cold or flu, with fever, cough, runny nose and sore throat. Often the eyes become red and runny. Three to five days later, a red or reddish-brown rash forms and extends from the body from head to toe.

The spots of Koplik.

How measles looks

Two or three days after you notice the symptoms of measles, you may begin to see small spots inside the mouth, on all cheeks. These spots are usually red with blue-white centers. They are called Koplik spots and are named after the pediatrician Henry Koplik, who first described the first symptoms of measles in 1896. Koplik's spots should disappear as the other symptoms of measles disappear.

The measles rash

How measles looks

The measles rash is red or reddish brown. It starts in the face and runs through the body for a few days: from the neck to the trunk, arms and legs, until it finally reaches the feet. Eventually, it will cover the entire body with colored patches of spots. The rash lasts a total of five or six days. Immunocompromised people may not have the rash.

Time to heal

How measles looks

There is no real treatment for measles. Sometimes, the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine within the first three days after being exposed to the virus can prevent the disease.

The best advice for people who are already sick is to rest and give the body time to recover. Stay comfortable by drinking plenty of fluids and taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever. Do not give aspirin to children because of the risk of a rare but serious condition called Reye's syndrome.

Complications of measles

According to the CDC, about 30 percent of people who get measles develop complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhea and encephalitis. Pneumonia and encephalitis are two serious complications that may require hospitalization.


Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that causes:

  • fever

  • Chest pain

  • difficulty breathing

  • cough that produces mucus

People whose immune systems have been weakened by another disease can get an even more dangerous form of pneumonia.


According to the CDC, about one in every 1,000 children with measles will develop an inflammation of the brain called encephalitis. Sometimes encephalitis starts right after measles. In other cases, it takes months to emerge. Encephalitis can be very serious and cause seizures, deafness and mental retardation in children. It is also dangerous for pregnant women, because they give birth too soon or have a baby born with low birth weight.

Other infections with rashes

Rubella (measles) is often mistaken for roseola and rubella (German measles), but these three conditions are different. Measles produces a reddish, spotted rash that spreads from head to toe. Roseola is a condition that affects babies and young children. It causes a rash to form on the trunk, which extends to the upper arms and neck and vanishes in a matter of days. Rubella is a viral disease with symptoms that include rash and fever that last two to three days.

Overcoming measles

The symptoms of measles often disappear in the same order in which they first appeared. After a few days, the rash should begin to disappear. It can leave a brown color on the skin, as well as some peeling. Fever and other measles symptoms will diminish and you, or your child, should start to feel better.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/health/rubeola-measles-pictures


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