Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection, most often seen in kids ages 5 to 10. Did you know the rash actually doesn’t appear until 10 to 21 days after the initial infection? Most cases heal without complications and with minimal scarring if scratching is controlled. The viral infection usually lasts between 5-6 days. However, in certain cases we may prescribe antiviral medications to shorten the duration of the infection as well as antihistamines to relieve itching. There is also a vaccine for chickenpox, you can find out more information on that from the NIH.
Let’s start with the basics, signs and symptoms:
- A red rash that will eventually turn into itchy, fluid-filled bumps that will turn into scabs
- Loss of appetite
If you’ve got a sick kid, keep them at home. Chickenpox is extremely contagious and if an adult contracts the viral infection, it can get very serious very quickly. Here are a few remedies you can try at home to help:
- Relive the fever. DO NOT USE ASPRIN. Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) or any products that contain aspirin can increase the risk of getting Reye’s syndrome. This severe illness can damage the liver and brain. If you want to control your child’s fever, use an acetaminophen like Tylenol.
- Relieve itchiness. Use an over-the-counter oral antihistamine for children. For more extreme cases, contact your Trillium Creek Dermatology expert for prescription medications that can relieve itching.
- Keep your child’s fingernails trimmed short. This will help prevent skin infections caused by scratching and potential scarring. For the younger ones, try using mittens or even socks to keep them from scratching and breaking the skin or causing scares.
- Oatmeal bath soak. For a natural, soothing treatment, a soak in colloidal oatmeal will help relieve some of the itching. Be sure the water is lukewarm – not hot!
- After bathing, apply a topical soothing ointment, such as calamine lotion, petroleum jelly or another fragrance-free, anti-itch lotion.
- Use sunscreen. When your child is on the mend, to minimize scaring, apply sunscreen during outdoor activity. Most often any small spots will fade and blend in with your normal skin tone within 18 months. If you overexpose them to UV radiation from the sun, they could become a permanent reminder.
For most, chickenpox clears on its own. However, complications can occur, you should always contact your Trillium Creek Dermatology expert with any questions or concerns. A few extreme complications include:
- Bacterial infections caused from scratching with hands exposed to various bacteria.
- Blood stream infections from scratching
Seek emergency medical care for breathing difficulties, confusion, disorientation, excessive sleepiness or seizures. Seek medical care for high fever (over 103° F); rash involving an eye; continued dehydration, vomiting, or decreased fluid intake; or secondary skin infections.
About Trillium Creek Dermatology and Surgery Center: Few places in the country offer the quality care, innovation and state-of-the-art procedures that are available at Trillium Creek. Through our integrative medicine approach, Trillium offers world-class general dermatology, dermatologic surgery, laser surgery, cosmetic dermatology, skin cancer treatment, Mohs surgery and holistic medicine.