What is it?
Chickenpox is a very contagious viral infection caused by the varicella virus, which most children contract before the age of ten. Chickenpox is easily spread via direct contact or by fluids in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A high number of cases occur in late winter and spring. It usually takes between 10 and 21 days for your child to start experiencing symptoms after contracting Chickenpox. Initial symptoms include feeling nauseated and the appearance of red, itchy lumps. A person is contagious up until a day or two before the rash appears and remains so until all blisters have dried and formed scabs / crusts. This could take up to seven days.
Signs and symptoms
Early signs include a runny nose, mild fever, feeling tired or irritable, and a cough.Perhaps the most well-known symptom is the rash associated with this condition.
The rash goes through four stages during the Chickenpox cycle:
- Spots appear as red, itchy lumps
- Round, fluid-filled blisters form from these lumps
- The blisters burst and watery fluid escapes
- A scab forms over the blisters and the rash begins to heal
The spots can vary in number and are intensely itchy. They can appear anywhere on the torso, head and neck. Chickenpox cannot be treated with antibiotics but solutions to relieve the itching and reduce a fever are available. While it may be difficult when a child feels unwell, it is vital that infected children drink enough water to prevent dehydration. Your Guardian pharmacist recommends little sips of water in addition to jelly, icy poles and soups to keep hydration levels up. A chickenpox (Varicella) vaccine is recommended at 18 months as part of a normal vaccination schedule.
How do I manage chickenpox?
Speak to your GP and Guardian pharmacist about lotions, bath solutions, creams and gels to relieve the itch as well as medications for pain and fever. As a preventative measure, Vaccination is by far the best way to avoid your child getting chickenpox.