Signs and Symptoms

Illustration of six children

Measles symptoms appear 7 to 14 days after contact with the virus and typically include high fever, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes. Measles rash appears 3 to 5 days after the first symptoms.

7 – 14 days after a measles infection: symptoms show

Illustration of child with measles. Child holds a box of tissues and a toy ducky.

Illustration of child with measles. Child holds a box of tissues and a toy ducky.

Measles isn’t just a little rash. Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. Measles typically begins with

  • high fever (may spike to more than 104°),
  • cough,
  • runny nose (coryza), and
  • red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis).

2-3 days after symptoms begin: Koplik spots

Tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth two to three days after symptoms begin.

Mouth of a patient with Koplik spots, an early sign of measles infection.

Mouth of a patient with Koplik spots, an early sign of measles infection.

3-5 days after symptoms begin: measles rash

Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet.

  • Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots.
  • The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body.
  • When the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104° Fahrenheit.
Skin of a patient after 3 days of measles infection.

Skin of a patient after 3 days of measles infection.

Sick child

Photos of Measles and People with Measles

See additional photos of what measles looks like at different stages after symptoms begin.