It is that time of the year when you can get a surge of childhood illnesses and emails are sent out by schools warning us there has been a childhood disease outbreak. So for those who have been asking for a better understanding of how to support potential measles in your child, I have put together this blog on a more naturopathic approach to measles, Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider if in doubt.
What is measles? It is a viral infection, and it is a so-called childhood disease. It is an acute disease which means it has a time limit, it comes and it goes in a short period of time. In homeopathy it is viewed that such a childhood disease is an opportunity for clearing chronic miasms (i..e genetic predispositions) for more on miasms read here.
Incubation time: It can take between 10-14 days to develop after initial exposure. Exposure can be through coughing and sneezing and this virus is highly contagious. It’s incubation period is anywhere between 8-21 days BUT the infectious period 4 days before and 5-10 days after the appearance of the rash.
How does it present itself? Initially, measles looks like a standard cold with sneezing, catarrh from the nose and eyes, dry and short coughs which can seem violent. There will be a fever and measles will have the Koplik spots, which are tiny spots on the inside of the cheeks. These spots appear a couple of days before the measles rash. A blotchy rash will start behind the ears, spreading to over the face, neck, chest and then the trunk and limbs. This rash will have raised spots in the blotches. The Koplik spots will disappear at this stage. The time from the appearance of the rash takes about 24-48 hours and then it fades into a brownish colour. The rash will clear by the end of 7-10 days.
KEEP IN MIND EACH CHILD CAN EXPERIENCE MEASLES SLIGHTLY DIFFERENTLY. In other words, although the disease is the same etc, there will be some variations in the symptoms from child to child. There can be a puffy red face, swollen eyelids, eyelids stuck together due to catarrh, the child can be fearful, irritable, miserable, he/she may become sensitive to light (photophobia),
The child is well within a fortnight. Complications can occur if the disease is suppressed, such as with un-necessary medications, such as those that suppress the fever, antibiotics etc.
How to nurse your child: Ensure your child gets plenty of rest, sleep, avoid bright lights, plenty of fluids such as water, coconut water (not the sugar-laden type), broth, soups, favorite stories and movies. Vitamin A has shown to be useful in the management of measles, so Vitamin A rich foods include, greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, cold liver oil, liver, red bell peppers, grapefruit and remember the herbs, parsley, thyme, basil and coriander. I am also a big believer in minerals in the form of homeopathic tissue salts, and the two tissue salts that I suggest as soon as the symptoms come on are Kali Mur and Ferrum Phos (known as potassium chloride and iron phosphate).
I would be totally lost without homeopathy when managing acute symptoms and there are several homeopathic remedies that will help, you just have to match the remedy to YOUR child’s symptoms. Remedies include Aconite, Apis, Arsenicum, Belladonna, Bryonia, Euphrasia, Gelsenium, Pulsatilla and Sulphur. So I will give you just a little tip on which remedies can help depending on the specific symptoms. Remember each measles case can present itself differently and therefore you match the remedy accordingly to the presenting symptoms.
Common cold symptoms with the measles – Arsenicum, Euphrasia, Pulsatilla
Cough with the measles – Aconite, Arsenicum, Belladonna, Bryonia, Euphrasia, Pulsatilla, Sulphur
Eye symptoms with the measles – Apis, Arsenicum, Belladonna, Euphrasia, Pulsatilla
Fever with the measles – Aconite, Apis, Belladonna, Bryonia, Gelsenium, Sulphur
A headache with the measles – Belladonna, Bryonia, Gelsenium
Burning rash – Aconite, Arsenicum, Belladonna, Sulphur
Hot rash – Belladonna
Itching rash – Aconite, Belladonna, Sulphur
Red rash – Belladonna, Sulphur
If measles came on suddenly – Aconite, Belladonna
If measles came on slowly – Bryonia, Gelsenium
So once you have ticked off which if the above symptoms are specific to your child then read the below to decide which remedy to use…REMEMBER you change the remedy if the symptoms change, so if the cough clears it is no use then to continue giving Aconite for example, then change the remedy if needed or allow your child to rest.
Aconite: this tends to be a dry barking cough and an itching, burning rash and the child tends to be restless, anxious and frightened.
Apis: if there is swelling, like puffy eyes, puffy face this is the remedy, the child may be quite irritable and restless
Arsenicum: blackish colour to the rash, digestive symptoms such as diarrhoea, anxiety and restlessness. Clear, watery discharge from eyes and nose that have a burning sensation.
Belladonna: tend to have glassy eyes, dilated pupils, rather ‘angry’, thirsty, extremely hot and sweaty. a throbbing headache can have hot head and face with cold hands and feet, sensitive to bright light. Delirious with the fever
Bryonia: dry hard cough that can cause the child to bend in pain. Irritable may tell you to ‘go away’. Feels worse for moving such as a headache is worse for moving, drowsy most of the time.
Euphrasia: eyes and nose stream, red eyes, and they may have deep aching bones, cough that is loose with catarrh. Key here is red eyes, conjunctivitis.
Gelsenium: they tend to have droopy eyes, very weak, tired and chilly, trembling. The actual development of the disease takes time, such as rash appears a little later than ‘standard’ day or two
Pulsatilla: thick discharge from the eyes, tends to be green. The child is clingy and won’t let you leave them alone in the room
Sulphur: Symptoms tend to be worse about 11am, can be weak and tired. Intolerable itching of the skin. May keep belching and it smells of rotten eggs
And remember to breathe….