german measles:
spotting the symptoms and treatment of german measles

Thanks to the MMR vaccine, German measles (or rubella, as it's also known) is now pretty rare in the UK. It's also fairly mild in children, and tends to get better by itself in about a week to ten days.

baby with german measles

german measles symptoms to watch out for

The rubella rash is made up of lots of little reddish-pink itchy spots. it usually first appears behind the ears, before spreading to the rest of the body. Before the rash appears, a few other early symptoms include sore and swollen neck glands, a mild temperature and conjunctivitis. It's even possible to have rubella without any symptoms at all, so you'll never even realise you had it.

baby with german measles rash
child with german measles rash

should i call the doctor?

You should definitely let your GP know if you think your or your child has rubella.[3] This is because the Department of Health keeps track of the number of cases, to get an idea of how successful the vaccinations have been. It's also pretty similar to a few other illnesses, so the doctor will probably want to double-check that you haven't got it mixed up with anything else. As above, be sure to call ahead before dropping into your surgery. 

staying protected with vaccinations

Your child will be given their first dose of the MMR vaccine when they're one and a second booster just before they start school. This is part of the UK's routine childhood vaccination problem, but you can just ask your GP if you're unsure whether you and your child are completely up-to-date with your jabs – anyone can ask to be immunised, regardless of how old they are and whether they've received any of their vaccinations already. 

how should i treat rubella?

Rubella is usually very mild and it doesn't last too long – it normally gets better on its own within about seven to ten days.[2] There's no set treatment, but if your little one is feeling unwell you can give them some age-appropriate ibuprofen or paracetamol (as well as plenty of cuddles, of course). Make sure they're drinking lots so they stay well hydrated, and that they get plenty of rest.

how to prevent german measles from spreading

As it's so contagious, it's important to stay nice and cosy indoors if you or your child has rubella – so no work or school for at least four days after the rash has developed. And you should also make sure to avoid any contact with pregnant women. So snuggle down together and get well soon.

what if i'm pregnant?

Although German measles is generally very mild, it is more serious if a pregnant woman catches it. This is especially true if you're in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy – call 111 or your GP if this is the case and you develop the rash or come into contact with anyone who has rubella.[1] If you do want to pop into your doctor's surgery, make sure to phone ahead so they can make preparations to avoid the risk of infecting anyone else.



[1]. Rubella in pregnancy, Emma's Diary, [Accessed May 2019]

[2]. Rubella (german measles), NHS, September 2018

[3]. Rubella (german measles), Baby Centre, [Accessed May 2019]