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Rubella (German Measles): Care Instructions


Rubella, also called German measles or 3-day measles, is a disease caused by a virus. It spreads by coughs, sneezes, and close contact. Rubella usually is mild and does not cause long-term problems. But if you are pregnant and get it, you can give the disease to your unborn baby. This can cause serious birth defects.

While you have rubella, you may get a rash and a mild fever, and the lymph glands in your neck may swell. Older children often have a fever, eye pain, a sore throat, and body aches. You can relieve most symptoms with care at home. Avoid being around others, especially pregnant people, until your rash has been gone for at least 4 days. People who have not had this disease before or have not had the vaccine have the greatest chance of getting the virus.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Get plenty of rest to help your body heal.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve), to reduce fever and discomfort. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Try not to scratch the rash. Put cold, wet cloths on the rash to reduce itching.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make your symptoms worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Avoid contact with people who have never had rubella and who have not been immunized.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever with a stiff neck or a severe headache.
  • You are sensitive to light or feel very sleepy or confused.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.