Your doctor can typically diagnose measles by observing the characteristic rash along with a small, bluish-white spot on a bright red background known as Koplik’s spot, which appears inside the cheek.

During the examination, your doctor may ask about your or your child’s measles vaccination status, recent international travel, and potential exposure to individuals with rash or fever.

However, since many doctors may not have encountered measles and considering that the rash resembles other illnesses, further diagnostic tests may be necessary. If needed, a blood test can confirm the presence of measles. Additionally, the measles virus can be identified through a throat swab or urine sample.


Once someone contracts measles, there is no specific treatment available. Management primarily centers around providing comfort measures to alleviate symptoms, such as rest, and addressing or preventing potential complications.
However, steps can be taken to prevent individuals lacking immunity to measles after exposure to the virus.

  • Post-exposure vaccination. Individuals lacking immunity to measles, including infants, may receive the measles vaccine within 72 hours of exposure to the virus to establish protection against it. In cases where measles still develops, symptoms are typically milder and of shorter duration.
  • Immune serum globulin. Pregnant women, infants, and individuals with weakened immune systems who are exposed to the virus may be administered an injection of immune serum globulin, which contains proteins (antibodies). When administered within six days of exposure to the virus, these antibodies can either prevent measles or mitigate the severity of symptoms.


Management for a measles infection may involve:

  • Medication to relieve fever. If fever is causing discomfort for you or your child during a measles infection, you can utilize over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium to help reduce the fever. Ensure to carefully read the labels or consult your doctor or pharmacist for the appropriate dosage. It’s important to be cautious when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Although aspirin is deemed safe for children aged 3 and older, it should never be given to children or teenagers recuperating from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms. This precaution is essential as aspirin has been associated with Reye’s syndrome, a rare yet potentially life-threatening condition, in such individuals.
  • Antibiotics. Should a bacterial infection such as pneumonia or an ear infection emerge during a measles episode, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.
  • Vitamin A. Children with deficient levels of vitamin A are prone to experiencing a more severe form of measles. Supplementing a child with vitamin A can help mitigate the severity of the infection. Typically, it is administered as a large dose of 200,000 International Units (IU) for children aged over one year. Younger children may receive smaller doses.