You just got the call from your child’s school: someone in your kid’s class has chickenpox. This highly contagious virus isn’t usually anything to worry about, but it can certainly cause some very unpleasant symptoms for your child, including a terribly red and itchy rash all over the body and face. If you’re concerned about chickenpox, your pediatrician can tell you everything that you should know about this common childhood infection.
How can I tell that it’s chickenpox?
Since chickenpox is caused by a viral infection, most children will develop common symptoms of an infection before the rash even develops. These symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Stomach upset
- Body aches
- Loss of appetite
The rash will usually appear 1-2 days after your child has been exposed to chickenpox. This rash consists of itchy, fluid-filled blisters that crust over within 4-5 days. Some children may only develop a few blisters on their body while others may develop hundreds.
How is chickenpox treated?
It is incredibly important that you keep your child from scratching the rash, as this can lead to infection and make their symptoms worse. Several home remedies can ease discomfort and itching. Some of these include:
- Applying calamine lotion
- Making sure that your child is drinking enough water and staying hydrated
- Soaking in a bath with baking soda for 20-30 minutes to reduce inflammation and pain
- Applying cold compresses to the rash
- Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine (talk with your pediatric doctor first before giving your child any medication)
Should my child see a doctor?
If your child is experiencing the typical symptoms of chickenpox, then chances are good that you won’t have to bring them into the office. The only thing you can do is wait. You should call your pediatrician if:
- Your newborn is showing signs of chickenpox
- Your child’s fever goes away and then comes back
- Your child has a high fever
- Some areas of the rash are getting larger or are painful (signs of infection)
Is there a way to prevent chickenpox?
The good news is that children today can be protected against chickenpox with a simple vaccine. The chickenpox vaccine is administered in two doses: the first vaccine is administered when your baby is 12 to 15 months and a second vaccine is administered at 4-6 years old.
If you want to protect your child against the chickenpox, then talk to your pediatrician about getting them vaccinated. Your child has enough to worry about, without chickenpox being one of them.