baby measles

Becoming a mother is a delightful experience that, occasionally, turns a little scary when your child is suddenly 'hit' by unexpected conditions, such as baby measles. Have you ever heard of it?

Also known as Sixth Disease and roseola, baby measles is a viral illness that mostly impacts children, and here's why it's called that way. Unlike what happens with the other measles, the children who catch roseola have a high fever that clears up all of a sudden leading to a rash that doesn't cause any trouble to the little ones, who, surprisingly, seem to be no longer ill and behave completely normal. 

If you want to keep learning about such a curious disease, you just need to have a look at the following lines.

What causes baby measles?

Roseola in babies is caused by the human herpes virus (HHV) type 6 and 7, which belong to the same family as the herpes simplex viruses (HSV), notorious for provoking genital herpes and cold sores.

What are the baby measles symptoms?

When considering the symptoms of baby measles, it's important to keep track of the timings. Right after the infection occurs, this disease has an incubation period that ranges from 5 to 15 days, followed by initial symptoms that may be a little confusing. Indeed, most babies start suffering from mild breathing problems until they get an alarming fever that can go up to 39.5º or even 40º. Such a fever usually lasts from three days to a week, during which the baby may be irritable, lack appetite, have swollen lymph nodes in the neck, along with swollen eyes and a mild diarrhoea. However, except for the fever, these 'secondary' symptoms may or may not show up at all.

Once the high fever vanishes, which happens abruptly, the rash 'takes over'. Its spots are pink-red flat or raised, and they usually start covering the baby's trunk, but rapidly spread to his neck, face, arms and legs. Such spots, which don't hurt, turn white when you touch them and they usually fade 48 to 72 hours after the outbreak.

How did my baby get it?

Baby measles is spread through airborne droplets when, for example, a child coughs or sneezes, though a baby can catch it after touching a surface where a droplet has landed and then bringing their hands to their mouth or nose. Roseola can be contagious during the fever stage, but when the rash breaks out, there's no risk of it being spread anymore.

How common is it? 

Baby measles approximately affects 30% of the babies who are between 6 and 24 months old, while its incidence is lower when it comes to pre-schoolers. So, yes, babies are the main target for the annoying viruses that cause roseola.

Is baby measles dangerous?

Doctors consider baby measles a harmless disease. Though its symptoms can make us keep our guard up and worry, roseola in babies comes and goes with no lasting effects. Only under very rare circumstances can it entail some risks for your munchkin (mostly, because of the high fever effects).

What should I do?

When dealing with baby measles, most parents seek medical help to find out what's causing their children's high fever. However, roseola isn't properly diagnosed until the fever is gone and the rash turns up, because it's by then when the doctor can rule out any other infections.

How is baby measles treated?

Contrary to what you may think, baby measles hardly ever requires professional treatment. Once it's diagnosed, the treatment is basically aimed at keeping the fever under control by giving your child some medication, acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and lukewarm sponge baths. In addition, doctors recommend keeping your child well-hydrated, with plenty of water and electrolyte solutions, to prevent the dehydration that could result from the fever. Also, avoid dressing your child in too many layers.

Although, as said previously, roseola in babies tends to be an anecdotal disease, there are times when it can require immediate medical attention. For instance, if the baby experiences seizures due to the high fever. In such a case, he may lose control of his bowels and bladder and spend two to three minutes jerking and twitching. You should also worry if the fever doesn't go away in seven days, if your baby is lethargic and, in addition, doesn't drink.

Well, what do you think about baby measles? It does sound a bit scary, doesn't it? However, keep in mind what we've already pointed out throughout this article: in general, this condition is much ado about nothing, though that doesn't mean you should ignore it (obviously!). If you are concerned about your child having such an illness, talk to your paediatrician and clear up any doubts. Remember that helping him cope with the high fever and dehydration is what you should focus on until he's finally alright.