Chickenpox is a common childhood illness that many parents will experience at some point. The rash and itchiness associated with chickenpox can be distressing for both parents and children.
Chicken pox, also known as varicella, is a highly contagious viral infection that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is most commonly seen in children between the ages of 5 and 9, but can occur at any age. The symptoms of chicken pox include a rash that starts as small red bumps and develops into fluid-filled blisters, itching, a fever, and fatigue. Although most children with chickenpox recover fully, the illness can be serious, especially in infants, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.
The virus is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks, or by direct contact with the blisters. It takes between 10 to 21 days for symptoms to appear after exposure to the virus. Children with chicken pox are most contagious a few days before the rash appears and until all the blisters have crusted over.
Chicken pox is a self-limiting illness. However, there are a few things you can do to help manage the symptoms and make your child more comfortable:
1. Keep your child home from school or daycare until all the blisters have crusted over. This will help prevent the spread of the virus to others.
2. Give your child plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Offer water, clear broths, frozen water or ice pops, or electrolyte drinks.
3. Offer your child a cool bath to help relieve itching.
4. Keep your child’s fingernails short to prevent skin infections caused by scratching.
5. Offer your child over-the-counter pain relievers such as paracetamol to reduce fever and relieve discomfort.
In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe antiviral medications to help reduce the severity and duration of the illness. However, these medications are not typically necessary for most children with chicken pox.
Once a child has had chicken pox, they will typically develop immunity to the virus and will not get it again. However, the virus can reactivate later in life and cause shingles, a painful rash that usually affects only one side of the body.
The best way to prevent chicken pox is to get the chicken pox vaccine. The vaccine is safe and effective, and it can prevent most cases of chicken pox. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all children get two doses of the chicken pox vaccine, with the first dose given at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose given at 4 to 6 years of age. The chickenpox vaccine can also help protect people who are unable to get vaccinated, such as newborns, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. When a high percentage of the population is vaccinated, it creates herd immunity, which helps prevent the spread of the virus.
If you have any concerns or questions about chicken pox don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. They are your trusted source of information and will be able to provide you with the guidance and support you need.
About The Author
Dr. Krisca is a highly-educated and skilled physician who has obtained a BS Public Health degree from the University of the Philippines Manila and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the De La Salle Medical Health Sciences Institute. She is a licensed physician and also a Registered Medical Technologist. She has received additional training in Hemodialysis for Non-Nephro Physicians on duty and has completed online courses in related fields like depression in populations from John Hopkins University and positive psychiatry from The University of Sydney. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of International Health in the University of the Philippines.
Dr. Krisca is known for her outstanding skills and compassionate approach to healthcare that make a positive impact on people’s lives. Through her passion for healthcare, she hopes to make a difference in the world and help people lead healthier, happier lives.