Measles (Rubeola)


Signs and Symptoms

  • Body-wide rash
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Persistent cough
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Tiny white spots on the inside of the cheek


Measles, a severe illness that usually strikes children, is caused by a virus that is transmitted via infected droplets-usually the droplets are inhaled from an infected person’s sneeze or cough. In healthy people, measles usually poses little health threat. Infants, the elderly, and people with poor health, on the other hand, can develop serious complications, such as pneumonia or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Fortunately, people who have had measles become permanently immune, preventing them from getting the disease again.

A few days after being infected with the virus, the measles victim will develop flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, coughing, sneezing, and sore throat. After three to five days, white spots begin to develop on the inside of the cheek, followed by the characteristic red blotchy rash, which appears on the face and slowly spreads to the neck, torso, arms, and legs. This rash may last up to 10 days before slowly fading. Unfortunately, measles is most infectious during the 10 to 14 days after infection, particularly before the rash appears.

Conventional Medical Treatment

If you suspect you have measles, call your physician (rather than making an office visit, since the virus is highly contagious) to see if you need an appointment. Measles usually does not require medical attention and is cared for in isolation until the rash disappears. Acetaminophen and over-the-counter cough medicine can be used to treat individual symptoms.

If, however, you are unsure that you have measles, or are particularly uncomfortable with the illness, your physician may ask to see you. A physical exam is usually all that is necessary to diagnose the condition, although your doctor may take a blood sample. Call your physician immediately if you begin to vomit, since this can be a sign of encephalitis, a dangerous inflammation of the brain.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

Nutrition and Supplementation

Drink plenty of fluids, including water, juices, and vegetable broth. Boost your immune system with these daily supplements:

  • vitamin A (10,000 IU twice for 1 week, then reduce to 10,000 IU once; do not exceed this dosage; do not exceed 8000 if you are pregnant)
  • cod liver oil (as directed on label)-for children who can’t swallow capsules
  • proteolytic enzymes (as directed on label)-reduces infection
  • raw thymus glandular (500 mg twice daily)-stimulates the immune system
  • vitamin C (300 to 1000 mg in divided doses for children; 1000 to 3000 mg in divided doses for adults)-vital to immune function; controls fever and infection
  • vitamin B complex (50 mg 3 times daily)-promotes healing; for a child under eight, use a formula specifically designed for children
  • zinc (1 I5-mg lozenge 3 times daily for 4 days, then reduce to 1 lozenge daily)-speeds healing; relieves itchy throat and cough

(Consult your healthcare provider regarding the duration of treatment.)

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture Rubeola, also known as hard measles, cannot be cured with acupuncture (as is true of any viral infection), but this treatment can be helpful in lessening associated symptoms, such as fever and rash. Acupuncture also can be used to bolster the immune system, which may help lessen the risk of additional complications, such as bronchitis and ear infections.

Chinese Herbal Therapy A TCM practitioner may recommend that burdock be taken internally, or mixed with water and used as an external wash to combat a measles rash. Red, irritated eyes may be remedied with Chinese black cohosh. A child’s dose of Hex and Evodia (Can Moo Ling) may be used to speed recovery.



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