Chicken pox is an infection due to varicella, a highly contagious virus that causes fever and multiple red, itchy bumps. Thankfully, it is less common due to varicella vaccine. Classically, children will have multiple spots in different stages of healing: itchy red spots, blisters, cloudy blisters, and crusted scabs. Repeated “crops” of lesions occur for about five days. Spots usually start on the head and back and spread everywhere.
WHAT TO DO:
- There is no specific treatment for chicken pox. Itching can be alleviated with an antihistamine like Benadryl. (See table in Hives section) Oatmeal baths or topical caladryl may also provide relief from itching.
- To prevent infected sores, trim yourchild’s finger nails. For young babies who are scratching, you may cover their hands with cotton socks or mittens.
- Children with chicken pox arecontagious until all the sores have crusted over, usually 6-7 days after the rash begins. If you have an appointment during this time, let our office staff know so that other children are not exposed.
- Tylenol or Motrin may be given for fever. Aspirin should be avoided in children and adolescents with chicken pox because of the link with Reye’s syndrome.
- For mouth pain, encourage cold fluids, and a soft bland diet. Avoid salty foods and citrus fruits or juice. If the mouth sores become troublesome, paint the sores with a solution made of equal proportions of Maalox and Benadryl about 4 times a day. Children older than 4 years may be able to gargle with this solution.
WHEN TO CALL:
During office hours if:
- fever persists for more than 4 days
- itching is severe and doesn’t respond to treatment
- you have other questions or concerns
- the chicken pox look infected (yellow pus, spreading redness, red streaks)
- your child develops a speckled red rash
- your child has difficulty breathing
- your child starts acting very sick