As a mother of three, I’ve unfortunately dealt with my fair share of respiratory infections, ear infections, coughs, infections, rashes, itches, and bumps amongst my children. I know that I wished I had a “quick gude” to help me through those tough times.
Fortunately, my gals never had the chicken pox, but in an effort to be as helpful as possible to you and my nanny agency clients, I’ve compiled exactly that – a “quick guide” to chicken pox and I’ve also included links to a few eBook downloads that you might find useful as you seek to solve your child’s infections, rashes, deal with immunizations, and handle other challenges you might be facing with your little one.
So let’s start out with the basics:
What is chicken pox?
- Also known as varicella
- Occurs as a result of an infection that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus
- Extremely common in children and highly contagious
- Uncomfortable for children but not usually dangerous
- Most of the time, children with chicken pox do not have to be treated by a doctor as it will go away on its own
- Since it is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not effective in treating it
- Usually a person will only get one episode of chicken pox as an immunity is developed
What ages of children are usually affected by chicken pox?
- Usually doesn’t affect children under the age of 1, but if it does it is typically mild
- Most common in children under the age of 12 years old
Is chicken pox contagious and how is it spread?
- Very contagious and can be spread very easily
- An infected person is contagious from 2 days before the bumps appear until 24 hours after all of the blisters have crusted over
- Can be spread by the virus be passed into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or even exhaling
- Can be spread through hand-to-hand contact when the infected person has touched the blisters or the fluid of the blisters and then touching the child
- Can also be spread through face-to-face contact with an infected person
How can chicken pox be prevented?
- Although it doesn’t keep chicken pox from occurring, keep the child up-to-date on his/her immunizations. The vaccine will keep most children from getting a serious case of chicken pox.
- Keep an infected child away from other children until the sores have crusted over
- Practice good hand washing habits
- If a sibling has chicken pox, most likely the child will begin to show the signs of chicken pox about 2 weeks later
What are the symptoms of chicken pox?
- Typically after a child has been exposed to chicken pox, it takes 10 – 21 days (on average about 14) before the red bumps begin to appear. Chicken pox starts with:
- Fever for up to 5 days
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite or stomach discomfort
- Usually 1 – 2 days later, itchy rash with bumps or spots will begin to develop (see below)
What does chicken pox look like on an affected child?
- Typically begins with an itchy rash with small red bumps or spots
- Usually starts on the scalp, face, chest or back and then spreads to the rest of the body
- The bumps then turn into blisters filled with fluid and a pink colored base
- The blisters break and result in open sores which will become crusted over
- The blisters finally become dry, brown scabs
- New bumps and a mix of the blisters and crusts will occur throughout the illness
- It will be difficult to tell on the first or second day of the spots occurring whether is actually chickenpox. But, do keep the child away from other children until at least the third day to determine whether it is actually chicken pox.
How can the chicken pox be treated?
- Give a cool bath every couple of hours using an oatmeal bath (can be purchased at a drugstore or by adding 1 – 2 cups of oatmeal to the bath)
- Baking soda can be used in a cool bath (instead of oatmeal). Add 4 to 8 ounces to the cool bath water to help with the itching
- Don’t rub the child while drying off, instead pat the child dry as this will keep the blisters from becoming more irritated
- Apply calamine lotion or aloe vera to the itchy areas
- Use an over-the-counter antihistamine (like Benadryl) to help with the itching (check with the doctor first before giving to young children)
- Trim the child’s nails as short as possible to help with keeping the child from picking or scratching at the bumps
- Light mittens or socks on a child’s hands will help keep the child from scratching the bumps
- Hold a cool washcloth or compress to the most itchy areas every 3 to 4 hours
- Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen can be given for fever or pain from mouth blisters
- Talk to the doctor about other over-the-counter medicines that may help if the child is very uncomfortable
How long does chickenpox last?
- After exposure, it takes 10 – 21 days (on average about 14) before the red bumps begin to appear.
- Usually lasts 5 – 10 days and will go away on its own without treatment
Call the doctor if:
- The child is 2 months old or younger
- The child has eczema, asthma or a weakened immune system
- The child seems to be getting worse or is sicker than expected
- Fever for more than 4 days
- The rash develops on the eyelids or around the eye area
- A cough develops
- If the spots becomes swollen, painful, red or has pus coming from them
- Vomiting, extreme headache or difficulty breathing occurs
Here is the e-Book about pediatric medications I put together that might help you as you seek out help for your child’s bronchitis. It covers all sorts of stuff that you can use to help your child with her symptoms.
You might also find these other two eBooks helpful!
Also, here are some additional videos I produced with my friends at Howcast that might be helpful to you as you tackle other related challenges: