The main symptom of rubella is a red or pink spotty rash.
The rash takes 2 to 3 weeks to appear after getting rubella.
The rash starts behind the ears and spreads to the head, neck and body.
The rash can be hard to see on dark skin, but might feel rough or bumpy.
You might have lumps (swollen glands) in your neck or behind your ears.
Rubella can also cause:
- aching fingers, wrists or knees
- a high temperature of 38C or above
- sneezing and a runny nose
- a sore throat
- sore, red eyes
It's very unlikely to be rubella if you have had both doses of the MMR vaccine or had rubella before.
Call a GP if:
- you or your child have symptoms of rubella
Rubella can spread to others. It's best to call before you go in. The GP may suggest talking over the phone.
Call your midwife, maternity unit or GP immediately if you're pregnant and have either:
- a new rash
- been in close contact with someone who has rubella
Rubella can be serious during pregnancy.
Rubella usually gets better in about 1 week.
It can help to:
- get plenty of rest
- drink lots of fluids, like water or squash
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen (do not give aspirin to children under 16)
Stay off nursery, school or work for 5 days after the rash appears.
Also try to avoid close contact with pregnant women.
Rubella is infectious from 1 week before the symptoms start and for 4 days after the rash first appears.
Rubella spreads in coughs and sneezes.
To reduce the risk of spreading or catching it:
- wash your hands often with soap and warm water
- use tissues when you cough or sneeze
- throw used tissues in the bin
- do not share cutlery, cups, towels, clothes or bedding
Rubella is very rare in pregnancy. But if you get it when you're pregnant, rubella could harm your baby.
It can cause:
- loss of the baby (miscarriage)
- serious problems after the baby is born – such as problems with their sight, hearing, heart or brain
The risk is highest if you get rubella early in pregnancy.
There's not thought to be a risk to your baby if you get rubella after week 20 of your pregnancy.
The MMR vaccine is offered to all children in the UK. 2 doses can give lifelong protection against measles, mumps and rubella.
Ask at your GP surgery if you're not sure you or your child have had the vaccine. They can give it for free on the NHS.
Read more about the MMR vaccine.