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As some of you may know my sons have all been going through chicken pox, and many of my friends children have been going through it too. So I thought this might be the ideal time to talk about chicken pox. I am not a nurse, doctor or in any medical occupation so I have used the NHS website to get my answers. I have written my blog by using the questions I wanted answering and then in some cases my experiences to, If their is a question which I have not covered the NHS website is a great place to go, and a reliable source! “I hope” 🙂 www.nhs.uk
First of all, what is Chicken Pox?
Chickenpox is a mild and common childhood illness that most children catch at some point. It causes a rash of red, itchy spots that turn into fluid-filled blisters. They then crust over to form scabs, which eventually drop off. Some children have only a few spots, but in others they can cover the entire body. The spots are most likely to appear on the face, ears and scalp, under the arms, on the chest and stomach and on the arms and legs. Chickenpox (medically known as varicella) is caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus. It’s spread quickly and easily through the coughs and sneezes of someone who is infected.
Can my child go to school / nursery?
To prevent spreading the infection, keep children off nursery or school until all the spots have crusted over. Chickenpox is most infectious from one to two days before the rash starts, until all the blisters have crusted over (usually five to six days after the start of the rash). If your child has chickenpox, try to keep them away from public areas to avoid contact with people who have not had it, especially people who are at risk of serious problems, such as newborn babies, pregnant women and anyone with a weakened immune system.
When can my child go back to school?
When all the spots have scabbed over, and child is back to normal.
What treatment is there?
There is no specific treatment for chickenpox, but there are pharmacy remedies which can alleviate symptoms, such as paracetamol to relieve fever and calamine lotion and cooling gels to ease itching. In most children, the blisters crust up and fall off naturally within one to two weeks. I found that a warm bath with a cup full of baking soda in eased the itching especially in my one year old, I also used calamine cream and kept it in the fridge so when I came around to using it on my boys it was refreshingly cold.
It is important for children (and adults) with chickenpox to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Sugar-free ice-lollies are a good way of getting fluids into children. They also help to soothe a sore mouth that has chickenpox spots in it. Avoid any food that may make the mouth sore, such as salty foods. Soup is easy to swallow as long as it is not too hot. A stronger medicine called chlorphenamine can also help to relieve the itching. It’s available from your pharmacist over the counter or it can be prescribed by your GP. Chlorphenamine is taken by mouth and is suitable for children over one year old.
What are the symptoms of Chicken pox?
The most commonly recognised chickenpox symptom is a red rash that can cover the entire body. However, even before the rash appears, you or your child may have some mild flu-like symptoms, including:
These flu-like symptoms, especially the fever, tend to be worse in adults than in children.
Soon after the flu-like symptoms, an itchy rash appears. Some children and adults may only have a few spots, but others are covered from head to toe.
The spots normally appear in clusters and tend to be:
But the spots can be anywhere on the body, even inside the ears and mouth, on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and inside the nappy area. Although the rash starts as small, itchy red spots, after about 12-14 hours the spots develop a blister on top and become intensely itchy. After a day or two, the fluid in the blisters gets cloudy and they begin to dry out and crust over. After one to two weeks, the crusting skin will fall off naturally. New spots can keep appearing in waves for three to five days after the rash begins. Therefore different clusters of spots may be at different stages of blistering or drying out.
Should I go to my doctor?
For most children, chickenpox is a mild illness that gets better on its own. But some children can become more seriously ill with chickenpox. They need to see a doctor. Contact your GP straight away if your child develops any abnormal symptoms, for example:
Is my unborn baby at risk?
Chickenpox occurs in approximately three in every 1,000 pregnancies. It can cause serious complications for both the pregnant woman and her baby. If you’re pregnant, chickenpox can occasionally cause complications, for example, your risk of developing pneumonia is slightly higher if you’re pregnant, especially if you smoke. The further you are into your pregnancy, the more serious the risk of pneumonia tends to be. If you get chickenpox while you’re pregnant, there is also a small but significant risk to your unborn baby. If you are infected with chickenpox during the first 20 weeks of your pregnancy, there is a risk that your unborn baby could develop a condition known as foetal varicella syndrome. This syndrome is rare. The risk of it occurring in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is less than 1%. Between 13 and 20 weeks, the risk is 2%. Foetal varicella syndrome can cause serious complications, including:
There have been reports of damage to the unborn baby from foetal varicella syndrome when a pregnant woman catches chickenpox after week 20. But the risk at this late stage in pregnancy is thought to be much less than 1%. However, there are other risks from catching chickenpox after week 20 of pregnancy. It is possible that your baby may be born prematurely (before week 37 of the pregnancy). And if you are infected with chickenpox seven days before or seven days after giving birth, your newborn baby may develop a more serious type of chickenpox. In a few severe cases, this type of chickenpox can be fatal. See your GP urgently if you’re pregnant or have given birth in the last seven days and you think you may have chickenpox, or if you’ve been exposed to someone who has chickenpox.
Chicken Pox and Shingles…..
One you have had chickenpox, you usually develop antibodies to the infection and become immune to catching it again. However, the virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella virus, remains dormant (inactive) in your body’s nerve tissues and can return later in life as an illness called shingles. It is possible to catch chickenpox from someone with shingles, but not the other way around.
Who can get the vaccination for chicken pox?
Chickenpox vaccination is recommended for some adults or children in
regular or close contact with someone who:
Vaccination protects the person who is at risk from catching chickenpox
through the close contact.
If you have any concerns, contact your GP or health visitor and use the NHS helpline too.
Hope your little ones get better soon xx