Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Risk Factors Symptoms Evaluation Treatment questions for doctor specialist Home Care congestion cough pain and fever sore throat warning signs Prevention vaccine Outlook Complications Underlying Cause Transmission

Measles Home Care

Home care for measles includes:

Measles Congestion

Home treatment for congestion in those with measles includes general measures and medications. Medications include oral decongestants, decongestant nasal sprays and antihistamines.

General Measures

  • Ask your child to blow the nose gently. Forceful blowing can cause pain and bleeding.
  • Apply petroleum jelly to the nostrils if the skin becomes dry.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Place a vaporizer or nebulizer in the bedroom at night.
  • Use saline (saltwater) nose spray, such as Ocean Nasal Mist: saline helps to keep the lining of nasal passages moist.

Oral Decongestants
Oral decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), help to thin the mucus responsible for the congestion. Decongestants are safe for children more than 6 years old. Talk to your doctor before providing a decongestant to a child less than 6 years old.

Decongestant Sprays
Decongestant nasal sprays, such as pseudoephedrine (Afrin), can relieve congestion faster than oral medications, but should not be used in children less than 12 years old.

Examples include:
  • Afrin Nasal Spray
  • Duration Nasal Spray
  • Four-Way Fast Nasal Spray
  • Neo-Synephrine Nasal Spray
  • Vicks Sinex Nasal Spray

Precautions include:
  • Do not use decongestant nasal sprays for longer than 3 days. After three days, the nasal tissues become dependent on the medication. When the medication is stopped, the nasal tissue swells and congestion worsens.

Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) brompheniramine and chlorpheniramine, dry nasal tissue. Antihistamines are safe for children more than 5 years old. Talk to your doctor before providing an antihistamine to a child less than 5 years old.

Examples include:

Precautions include:

Diphenhydramine Dosing Chart
AgeDoseIntervalMax Daily Dose
2-5 years6.25 mg4-6 hours37.5 mg/day
6-11 years12.5-25 mg4-6 hours150 mg/day
12 and older25-50 mg4-6 hours300 mg/day

Chlorpheniramine Dosing Chart
AgeDoseIntervalMax Daily Dose
Under 6consult your physician
6-11 years2 mg4-6 hours12 mg/day
12 and up4 mg4-6 hours24 mg/day

Measles Cough

Home treatment of a cough in those with measles includes:

  • Avoid respiratory irritants, such as pollution, pollen, mold, dust and chemical fumes
  • Change A/C and furnace filters regularly.
  • Avoid exposure to secondary smoke.
  • Drink warm liquids to relieve coughing spasms.
  • Use throat lozenges, but do not use them in children under 5 years of age.
  • Place a vaporizer or nebulizer in the bedroom at night.

Cough medicines:

Dosing Dextromethorphan
Childs WeightDextromethorphan Dose
22 lb (10 kg)5 mg every 8 hrs
33 lb (15 kg)7.5 mg every 8 hrs
44 lb (20 kg)10 mg every 8 hrs
55 lb (25 kg)12.5 mg every 8 hrs
66 lb (30 kg)15 mg every 8 hrs
88 lb (40 kg)20 mg every 8 hrs
110 lb (50 kg)25 mg every 8 hrs
132 lb-adult (60 kg)30 mg every 8 hrs

Cough medication precautions:

Measles Pain and Fever

Common medications used at home for pain and fever in children with measles include:

Aspirin and most of the other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are not used in children except under a doctor's care.

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Do not exceed the maximum daily dose.
  • Acetaminophen products come in various strengths. Always follow the package instructions.
  • Avoid this drug in children with liver disease or an allergy to acetaminophen.
  • Common acetaminophen products include Tylenol, Panadol and many others.



Measles Sore Throat

Home care for a sore throat in a child with measles includes:

  • Avoid citrus juice.
  • Avoid hot and spicy foods.
  • Avoid exposure to secondary smoke.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Numb the throat pain with throat spray or lozenges.
  • Perform warm salt water gargles several times a day:
    • Mix 1/2 teaspoon (92.5 ml) salt per cup (240 cc) of water.
  • Place a vaporizer or nebulizer in the bedroom at night.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain
  • Acetaminophen for pain

Measles Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have measles and any of the following:

Continue to Measles Prevention

Last Updated: Mar 11, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Measles References
  1. Perry RT, Halsey NA. The clinical significance of measles: a review. J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S4-16. [15106083]
  2. Stalkup JR. A review of measles virus. Dermatol Clin. 2002 Apr;20(2):209-15, v. [12120435]
  3. Wellington K, Goa KL. Measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (Priorix; GSK-MMR): a review of its use in the prevention of measles, mumps and rubella. Drugs. 2003;63(19):2107-26. [12962524]
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