Chickenpox: what to do

By admin
30 April 2014

Chickenpox is a disease that causes an itchy rash and red marks or blisters all over the body. It’s common in children and most people get it at some stage if they’re not vaccinated. Here’s advice.

Chickenpox is a disease that causes an itchy rash and red marks or blisters all over the body. It’s common in children and most people get it at some stage if they haven’t been vaccinated.

Symptoms

Chickenpox starts with a headache and a sore throat or stomach ache. These symptoms can last for a few days and be accompanied by a temperature of 38,3 °C to 38,8 °C.

A red, itchy rash often occurs, first on the stomach or back and face, and then on the rest of the body.

The rash begins with multiple red spots that look like pimples or insect bites. They usually appear over two to four days and turn into fluid-containing, itchy blisters.

Infectious

Chickenpox is very infectious – the siblings of most children with chickenpox also catch the disease if they haven’t previously had it.

It’s infectious for about two days before the rash appears. That’s why it’s difficult to know whether you’ve been infected before you experience symptoms.

Make sure children wash their hands regularly, especially before meals and after using the bathroom. Try to keep an infected child away from other children. Children with chickenpox should stay home from school for about a week. Consult your doctor before allowing children to return to school.

Mom, it’s itching!

How to alleviate the itch and discomfort:

  • Bath your child in cold or lukewarm water every three to four hours for the first few days. Oatmeal products can also help relieve the itching.
  • Pat (don’t wipe) your child dry.
  • Apply calamine lotion to the itchy area but not to the face.
  • Provide cold, soft food because chickenpox in the mouth can make eating and drinking uncomfortable.
  • Ask your doctor about medication to help alleviate the itching.

Never use aspirin to relieve pain or fever in children with chickenpox. The consumption of aspirin by children who have chickenpox has been linked to Reye syndrome, which can cause liver failure and even death.

Don’t scratch!

Try to discourage your children from scratching the blisters. Not scratching might be difficult so consider putting gloves or socks on your child’s hands at bedtime. Keep your child’s nails short to reduce the risk of infecting the blisters when scratching them.

Try to distract your child’s attention from the itching; an interesting new children’s movie can work wonders. Games that keep their hands busy also help them scratch less. Jigsaw puzzles are also useful for keeping hands busy.

The itching can also be soothed by Mom or Dad softly stroking the sores with the flat of their hands.

- Shané Barnard

Sources: webmd.com, health24.com, kidshealth.org

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