It may take between 7 to 14 days for a child to develop symptoms of measles after being exposed to the disease.
It is important to know that a child is contagious about four days before and four days after the rash develops. Therefore, children may pass the disease to others before they even know they have it.
During the early phase of the disease (which lasts between one and four days), symptoms usually resemble those of an upper respiratory infection. The following are the common symptoms of measles. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Runny nose
- Hacking cough
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Small spots with white centers (Koplik’s spots) appear on the inside of the cheek (usually occur two or three days after symptoms begin )
- Rash. Deep, red, flat rash that starts on the face and spreads down to the chest, abdomen, arms, legs and feet. The rash starts as small distinct lesions, which then combines as one big rash. After three to seven days, the rash will begin to clear leaving a brownish discoloration and peeling skin.
- Severe diarrhea
The most serious complications from measles include the following:
- Ear infections
- Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
- Death (3 in 1,000 cases)
- Infants under 12 months are at highest risk of the most serious complications.
The symptoms of measles may resemble other skin conditions or medical problems. Always see your child’s health care provider for a diagnosis.