WHAT IS IT AND WHAT CAN WE DO?
Most of us have distant memories of our own personal chicken pox episodes–coming into the house after school, scratching a couple of spots.
Scratching a few more spots later in the day.
Going to bed and waking up the next morning . . . looking at our spot population that tripled over night and morphed into little blisters all over everywhere . . . and yelling: MOMMMM!
But that happened so long ago that now we can’t remember anything past the blur of miserable days. What did mom do? Dunk us in an oatmeal bath? Slather us with calymine lotion? Dose us up with pain reliever?
Here’s a little info for you, gleaned from trustworthy sources like the Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Please use this info as a jumping off point for treating your child. If you suspect your child has chicken pox, bring him or her into us at Primary Care Pediatrics, or to your Orlando pediatrician or Central Florida pediatrician, for confirmation of the diagnosis.
What Is Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It presents with a rash that looks like blisters, with itching, tiredness, and a fever. Usually the blisters will show up first on the stomach, back and face. They often spread over the whole body.
Chickenpox is not usually serious, but it can be when contracted by babies, adults, and people with weak immune systems.
Nowadays most kids get a chickenpox vaccine and this keeps them from getting the disease. If they don’t get the vaccine, they remain susceptible to it and can contract it as an adult. At which point the symptoms can be a lot more serious and longer-lasting.
Chickenpox usually lasts about a week. The body is covered with a rash that turns into itchy fluid-filled blisters that turn into scabs when the disease has run its course. The pox can also be inside the mouth, eyelids, and genital area. Along with the rash comes fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, and headache.
Sometimes people who have been vaccinated against chickenpox still contract the disease, but in their cases, the symptoms are usually a lot milder.
Chickenpox is very contagious. It’s mainly spread by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from the chickenpox blisters.
A person with chickenpox is contagious from one or two days before they get the rash until after the blisters have all formed scabs. It takes about two weeks to come down with chickenpox after being exposed to someone with the disease.
The best way to avoid getting chickenpox is to get the vaccine. Kids, adolescents, and adults should get the chickenpox vaccine twice.
Chickenpox Treatment and Relief
After you’ve taken your child to your pediatrician and confirmed the chickenpox, you can do some things at home to give your kids relief. Calamine lotion and colloidal oatmeal baths help relieve the itching.
Non-aspirin medications like acetaminophen can help take down fever.
The CDC recommends NOT using aspirin or aspirin-containing products to relieve chickenpox fever. This is because the use of aspirin in kids with chickenpox has been associated with Reye’s syndrome, which is a disease that affects the liver and brain.
For people with a high risk of complications from chickenpox, doctors will take extra precautions and prescribe certain medications to try to limit the duration of the disease. The doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug such as acyclovir or Immune globulin intravenous. The Mayo Clinic agrees that medicine containing aspirin should not be given to anyone with chickenpox.