Chickenpox is a highly contagious infection caused by the varicella zoster virus. Chickenpox is easily spread through person-to-person contact; for instance, a person with chickenpox touching another person or coughing/sneezing and spreading the virus in the air. Chickenpox is infectious one to two days before the rash appears and stays infectious until the blisters form scabs. Once the blisters are completely dry, the child is no longer infectious.
- Children with chickenpox will show signs of tiredness and lethargy.
- Swollen glands.
- Feeling irritable.
At first the rash will appear as red spots, which then turn into small patches of blisters over the chest, back tummy and face. The rash can be found in other areas of the body such as inside the mouth, ears, genitals and eyes.
Treatment of Chicken Pox
There is no cure for chickenpox. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms. Chickenpox is a virus and therefore cannot be treated with antibiotics.
Options to help with symptoms may include:
- Paracetamol to help with the fever and pain.
- Fluids to help prevent dehydration.
- Lukewarm baths.
- Cream such as a calamine lotion to help with the itching.
What to expect
Children will develop a rash around 10-21 days after exposure to the virus. This is called the incubation period. Children with chickenpox are usually unwell for approximately 5-7days. In healthy children complications are unlikely, however they sometimes do happen.
Complications may be:
- Infection of the skin pores (cellulitis).
- Scarring due to scratching of the blisters.
Your child’s school, kinder or childcare should be notified if your child develops chickenpox and your child should not attend until the last blister has scabbed over.
Sharing this information is extremely important as other children may need to be immunised or treated and certain groups may need to avoid any contact whilst the child is infectious. This may include:
- People being treated with chemotherapy.
- People prescribed long term steroids.
- Pregnant women who have not had chickenpox before.
- Newborn babies.
Things to remember
- Chickenpox is highly contagious.
- In most cases, chickenpox is mild and does not require medical treatment.
- Treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms.
- The best prevention of chickenpox is to have your child immunised.
- If concerned, contact your doctor.
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