Chickenpox is a common viral childhood infection usually affecting school age children.

It is caused by the varicella zoster virus (part of the herpes family). This disease is marked by a characteristic rash - usually starting on the head and moving downwards, small red bumps appear which later become blisters which in turn later become crusted. Associated symptoms include fever, decreased appetite, reduced activity and feeling sick.

Chickenpox is highly contagious, the virus being spread primarily through aerosolized particles in coughs and sneezes. The incubation period for chickenpox is usually between 1 and 2 weeks long, so symptoms may appear unexpectedly, making tracing exposure difficult. The infected child is infective from a few days before the first rashes appear to until all the rashes are crusted over. This may take 2 to 3 weeks. Most children suffering from chickenpox have to be kept home away from school for a period of time.

Recently, a vaccine for chickenpox has become available.

Home Treatment for Chicken Pox:


Itching

  • Relieve itching skin with wet compresses or bathing in cool or lukewarm water every 3 to 4 hours for the first few days.
  • Bathing in oatmeal, cornstarch or baking soda can help to relieve the itching. Baths do not spread chicken pox. Pat not rub - the body dry.
  • Bathing with herbs such as goldenseal, neem, ginger, and burdock can also help prevent itching.
  • Calamine lotion can be used to help the itching, but do not put lotion near the eyes or on the faces of younger children.
  • You may also want to give diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for itching, though you should ask a doctor first for children under two. It can have side effects of sleepiness or less commonly cause children to be hyper.

Scarring and Secondary Infections

Other Considerations

  • Chicken pox in the mouth may make drinking or eating difficult. Give cold fluids and soft, bland foods. Avoid anything acidic or salty.
  • Sores in the genital area can be painful. Anesthetic creams that dull the pain can be applied.
  • To reduce fever or pain, use nonaspirin medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil). Aspirin should NOT be used in children with chicken pox because the use of aspirin for chicken pox been associated with Reye's syndrome.
  • Call your doctor immediately if the child has a temperature over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, has trouble walking, a severe headache, neck pain, impaired vision, if the fever comes back a day or so after it's been gone, or is extremely lethargic.

Sources:

http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/chicken_pox.html
http://www.parentsplace.com/health/firstaid/articles/0,10335,239207_108853,00.html
My mom, the nurse, as my children are covered in pox while I type this.
A Maidu Grandmother down the road.

Chick"en pox" (?). Med.

A mild, eruptive disease, generally attacking children only; varicella.

 

© Webster 1913.

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