Measles is caused by a virus which is not in itself particularly dangerous, but during an attack the child is weakened and much more vulnerable than usual to bacterial infections. These side infections, especially of the chest and ears, are the main danger associated with measles, and careful use of essential oils can reduce this danger.
Around 9 to 11 days after you get the measles infection, the following symptoms begin to appear:
- cold-like symptoms, such as runny nose, watery eyes, swollen eyelids and sneezing,
- red eyes and sensitivity to light,
- a mild to severe temperature, which may peak at over 40.6°C (105°F) for several days, then fall but go up again when the rash appears,
- tiny greyish-white spots (called Koplik's spots) in the mouth and throat,
- tiredness, irritability and general lack of energy,
- aches and pains,
- poor appetite,
- dry cough, and
- red-brown spotty rash (see below).
The above symptoms generally last for up to 14 days.
The measles rash appears three to four days after initial symptoms and lasts for up to eight days. The spots usually start behind the ears, spread around the head and neck, then spread to the legs and the rest of the body.
The spots are initially small but quickly get bigger and often join together. Similar-looking rashes may be mistaken for measles, but measles has a range of symptoms, not just a rash.
Most childhood rashes are not measles, but see your GP without delay if:
- you suspect it is measles,
- symptoms worsen,
- temperature increases to above 38°C (100.4°F),
- temperature stays high after other symptoms have gone, or
- there are signs of other related illnesses.
The best and simplest method is to keep up a continuous vaporisation in the sick child's room of Eucalyptus or Tea tree, using a burner or other type of diffuser. Failing any specialised equipment, the essential oil can be put in a humidifier attached to a radiator, or even on wet cloths hung over a radiator. Alternatively, it can be mixed in a spray which will need to be repeated at frequent intervals. These methods will not only help to protect the sick child from secondary infections, but may be useful in reducing the risk of measles spreading to other members of the family. Dr. Jean Valnet recommends surrounding the patient with a veil which is repeatedly sprayed with Eucalyptus oil. Vaporisations of this kind can be safely used for even the youngest children.
If the sick child is old enough to be safely treated directly with essential oils (from about 4 yrs upwards) gently sponging with tepid water and a febrifuge oil, such as Camomile or Bergamot will help to reduce fever. Put 2 drops of Bergamot and 2 of Camomile into a pint of lukewarm water and gently sponge the child's body every few hours.
Steam inhalations can be used to ease the sore throat that accompanies measles, again, if the child is old enough to safely manage this.
Major outbreaks of measles occur every two or three years. Spraying or vaporising Eucalyptus and Tea tree oils in the home can give children a degree of protection, and older children can take baths with 2-3 drops of cither of these oils. It may not be possible to avoid infection, but such measures will often ensure that the attack is a mild and uncomplicated one.
Make a blend of equal proportions camomile and lavender essential oils and use 5 drops of this in a pint of tepid water for a wash-down solution. The water should be warm. Add the oils to the water in a bowl, swish them around, soak your sponge or cloth, wring it out and gently wash the child. Do the whole body. This will soothe the spots and aid recovery. If you wish to cover the spots in calamine lotion, add 5 drops each of camomile and lavender essential oil to a 100ml bottle of calamine and shake well.
It goes without saying that a doctor should always be called: it would be totally irresponsible to attempt to treat acute childhood illness with essential oils alone. Do, however, continue the measures described above in conjunction with whatever treatment is suggested by your doctor.
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