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German Measles vs. Measles: Which is More Severe?

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 22, 2023

German Measles vs. Measles: Which is More Severe?

Parents often hear about measles and German measles when they bring their kids for vaccination. And while the two conditions sound similar, they have different causes, symptoms, and interventions. Here’s what you need to know about German measles vs. measles.

Measles Can Be More Severe Than German Measles

Parents need to know that measles (Rubeola or tigdas) may cause more severe symptoms than German measles (Rubella or Three-Day measles).

The virus that causes rubella often leads to mild symptoms, and sometimes, none at all for some people. On the other hand, the virus that causes tigdas can result in serious problems and even death, especially to children under 5.

Fortunately, cases of measles and German measles had significantly dropped, thanks to the MMR (Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine, which is included in the DOH’s Expanded Program on Immunization.

German measles vs. measles

Tigdas and Rubella Have Different Symptoms

Symptoms of German measles vs. measles have some similarities but are also different on certain levels.

For one, both conditions produce reddish or pinkish rashes that break out in the face and spread to the torso, arms, and legs. The other non-specific symptoms they have in common are:

  • High temperature (please note that fever in German measles is usually lower grade).
  • Runny nose (but can be stuffy nose for German measles)
  • Inflamed, red eyes (sore eyes for measles)

Other Symptoms of German Measles

Below are the other signs and symptoms of German measles:

  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes at the back of the neck (base of the skull) or behind the ears.
  • Achy joints (more common in women)

Important: German measles is typically contagious from 7 days before and 7 days after the rash appears. The symptoms might last anywhere from 1 to 5 days.

Other Symptoms of Tigdas

Below are the other signs and symptoms of measles:

  • Dry cough (can be persistent)
  • Sore throat
  • Koplik’s spots or the little white spots with reddish background and bluish-white centers found inside the mouth or in the cheeks.

Important: Children with tigdas may spread it 4 days before and up to 4 days after the appearance of rashes. Unlike German measles, which clears in a matter of days, tigdas can last for weeks.

German Measles vs Measles: Treatment

Since German measles and measles are both viral infections, antibiotics will not work. Typically, the doctor recommends supportive care to ease symptoms and prevent complications.

For German measles:

German measles usually clears up on its own unless there are complications. At home, parents are advised to:

  • Isolate their child
  • Monitor their child’s temperature and bring them to the doctor if the fever becomes too high.
  • Encourage adequate rest in their child.
  • Give them plenty of fluids.
  • Give them doctor-approved medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease some symptoms.
  • Seek medical help right away if the child doesn’t seem to get better or if the symptoms are becoming worse.

    For measles or tigdas:

    Children with measles need to be closely watched by a doctor because of potential complications, which include:

    Should the doctor determine that your child can recuperate at home, they will also recommend the suggestions above.

    Final Reminders

    If you are pregnant and noticed the signs and symptoms of German measles or measles, go to the doctor as soon as possible.

    Remember that both tigdas and German measles are contagious. Children can transmit the viruses through droplets when they cough or sneeze. This is why isolation is crucial, especially for measles, since it’s more contagious and can result in severe symptoms. According to reports, 9 out of 10 kids who didn’t receive the MMR vaccine will develop the infection if they are near someone who has measles.

    Finally, remember that measles and German measles are highly preventable through the MMR vaccine. Babies need two doses: the first they receive on their 9th month, and the other on their 12th month.

    Learn more about the Signs of an Unwell Child here. 


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 22, 2023

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