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Childhood Rash Disease: Measles

Maria Fernanda
5 min read

During childhood, children can suffer from certain viral diseases, which is left untreated could end up in devastating scenarios for the infant's health.

This group of clinical entities, characteristic of childhood, are known as exanthematic diseases of childhood and measles is part of the group of these diseases.

Worldwide, the geographical area of the Americas was an area devoid of cases, but with poor health programs, again, in 2019 new cases were reported in countries such as Brazil and Venezuela.

What is measles?

Measles is a viral disease that most often affects children between the ages of 1 and 4 years.

Likewise, it is a very contagious pathology and, if it affects children under one year of age, the picture is more complicated.

Furthermore, the way measles is transmitted is through human secretions contaminated with the virus. This means that the virus is carried in the droplets expelled when you cough, speak or sneeze.

Childhood Rash Disease: Measles – Wellness and Health – WebMediums

On the other hand, there is always a contagion period in this type of infection, which is the time when the disease can be transmitted from one person to another.

In the case of measles, this period extends from the onset of symptoms to the first 4 days after the skin rash.

An extra fact is that this virus can be suspended in the air for an hour, this is one of the reasons why it is a contagious disease.

Cause of measles

Measles has a single cause, the etiological agent responsible for the disease belongs to the Paramyxoviridae family, of the Morbillivirus genus.

Structurally, it is an RNA molecule virus, that is, it needs to replicate to keep the body infected. In turn, it is made up of 6 proteins that provide the viral support or structure.

Regarding the incubation period, most texts establish a period of 7 to 18 days for symptoms to appear, after exposure to the virus.

What happens in the body?

Thousands of processes are occurring in the body as the virus enters and begins to replicate.

Basically, the virus reaches the upper respiratory tract, where it replicates for the first time. Subsequently, the virus manages to migrate to the nearby lymph node area.

After the first three days, the virus manages to penetrate the blood and, with this, it reaches other organs. The days continue to pass, the replication continues active, until approximately on day 13 the rash appears.

Symptoms of measles

In addition to all these processes, there are four clinical stages in the natural history of the disease, in which all the symptoms occur. In this sense, the stages are.

  • Incubation

  • Prodromal

  • Exanthematic

  • Convalescence

You already know the first stage, it consists of the time it takes for the first symptoms to appear. In other words, it is a period where the child is asymptomatic.

Then, in the prodromal stage, it is nothing more than the cold stage. Of course, the symptoms are high fever, general malaise, cough, decreased appetite, sneezing, among others.

Now, the exanthematic stage is very characteristic of the disease, especially because the order of appearance of the spots is from head to toe.

Childhood Rash Disease: Measles – Wellness and Health – WebMediums
General discomfort

Also, there will be areas where the spots will not appear, such as the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.

On the third day, the rash begins to disappear in the same order and the spots turn purplish.

Finally, in the convalescent stage all discomforts disappear, although the cough may persist for a longer time.

Infrequent presentations of measles

What you have just read represents the most common form of presentation of measles, but this does not mean that it is the only scenario that can occur. In this way, the less frequent ways are.

  • Hemorrhagic or black measles: it is a serious variant that causes alterations in the brain and skin.

  • Modified measles: occurs in children who have received a certain type of medication.

  • Atypical measles: they are all those children who have the vaccine, but whose body did not generate immunity. In simple words, they do not have antibodies to the virus for their body to defend itself.

Measles treatment

You may want to hear that there is a treatment for measles, but the reality is that there is not. Unfortunately, it does not have a specific treatment. However, it does not mean that there is no cure.

On the other hand, viral infections warrant symptomatic treatment, this means that only the symptoms are treated.

At the same time, it is important to emphasize that antibiotics should not be administered, since it has no benefit in viral infections.

Childhood Rash Disease: Measles – Wellness and Health – WebMediums
Measles vaccine

In addition to this, the World Health Organization advises that children who are diagnosed with measles can be given vitamin A to reduce mortality.

Although there is no definitive treatment, it is possible to prevent the disease with the application of the vaccine at the corresponding ages.

What not to do while your baby has measles?

Usually, in the course of these infections, children tend to become dehydrated, first, due to fever and, secondly, because they do not want to drink liquids.

Therefore, a very common mistake is for mothers to offer their children different teas and infusions, instead of water or oral serum, to avoid dehydration.

What they do not know is that these types of drinks are contraindicated in children, since they could induce severe dehydration, even death.

Another action that you should avoid at all costs is to self-medicate the child, above all, to administer pain relievers.

The advice is that you consult a doctor, remember that the dosages in pediatrics depend on the weight of the child and the presentation of the medicine.

If you persist in giving the wrong dose, you can cause drug poisoning.