Here is a perfect guide on the spots, the symptoms, how to care for your child with chickenpox, and when to visit your doctor.
What is it?
Chickenpox is caused by a virus called varicella zoster. It is contagious, which means that someone who has it can easily spread it to someone else through coughing and sneezing. A person is most contagious during the first 2 to 5 days of being sick - and it’s most common for schoolchildren. Due to this, if you believe your child has chickenpox they shouldn’t attend school/preschool.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms are a fever and a rash of spots that look like blisters. Other symptoms can include a runny nose, a cough, a headache, aching muscles, and/or stomachache and a loss of appetite. It’s common that the itchy spots/blisters will only appear one to two days AFTER other symptoms have been noticed. Where are the most common areas?
Behind the ears, on the chest, stomach, arms, and legs. However, the spots can appear on the face, scalp, and even around their mouths.
Please note, the quantity of spots does not equate to the intensity of the infection. Some children may only have a few spots, while others may be covered from head to toe! Due to this, if you see any spots, please inform your child’s school to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Photo credit: NHS ; https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chickenpox/
How do I look after a child with chickenpox?
Treat the symptoms! For example, Use paracemamol for a high temperature. Use calamine lotion and antihistamines to help ease itching. Adding bicarbonate of sofa to bath water may also help soothe a baby’s itching. Make sure the child is weating loose-fitting clothing, to help stop the skin from becoming sore and irritated. Also, make sure the child is getting lots of fluids - and avoid salty foods that may make their mouths sore.
Due to the itching, make sure fingernails are clean and short. If the itching occurs throughout the night, maybe even try placing gloves on their hands at night.
What happens next?
The spots will blister, and then the blisters will crust over to form scabs, which will eventually naturally fall off - usually within one to two weeks after the first symptoms started.
If your child has chickenpox they should be kept away from others as much as possible - to help prevent the spread. This means, no childcare, nursery, or school until the blisters have scabbed over - which usually takes 5 to 6 days.
Make sure infected clothing or bedding is regularly washed to help prevent the infection from spreading in the household.
When should you visit your doctor?
According to the NHS, Chickenpox is most common in children under 10, and are more likely to catch the infection throughout winter and spring - due to the increase in coughing and sneezing. Chickenpox is also so common that 90% of adults are immune, due to having it as a child, so there is no immediate reason to visit your doctor.
However, unfortunately some children can become seriously ill with the infection. If you notice your child is having difficulty breathing, or if the blisters have become infected, visit your doctor straight away.
What if I want more information?
Please check out the kidshealth.org website ; https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/chicken-pox.html
Or the NHS website ; https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chickenpox/