What is it?
Chickenpox is caused by the virus known as varicella-zoster and spreads easily from one person to another.
This disease can spread through air or contact with saliva, mucus, or fluid from blisters of an infected individual. The infection will have to be in your body for around seven to 21 days before the rash and other symptoms develop. You start to be contagious to those around you up to 48 hours before the skin rash starts to occur till the time the blisters have dried.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms before the rash appears: * Fever * Headache * Loss of appetite * Onset of rash all over the body even in the mouth. The rash has three stages: First these are red or pink bumps all over your body. The bumps become blisters filled with fluid that leaks. The bumps become crusty, scab over, and begin to heal. The rash can be itchy and the boils will not be in the same stage always. New boils will keep appearing continuously during the infection.
- stay away from school, nursery or work until all the spots have crusted over. This is usually 5 days after the spots first appeared.
- drink plenty of fluid (try ice lollies if your child isn’t drinking) to avoid dehydration
- take paracetamol to help with pain and discomfort
- put socks on your child’s hands at night to stop scratching
- cut your child’s nails
- use cooling creams or gels from your pharmacy
- speak to your pharmacist about using antihistamine medicine to help itching
- bathe in cool water and pat the skin dry (don’t rub)
- dress in loose clothes
- do not use ibuprofen unless advised to do so by your doctor, as it may cause serious skin infections
- do not give aspirin to children under 16
- do not be around pregnant women, newborn babies and people with a weakened immune system, as it can be dangerous for them
Things to watch out for
Speak to a GP if: you’re not sure it’s chickenpox the skin around the blisters is red, hot or painful (signs of infection) your child is dehydrated you’re concerned about your child or they get worse Tell the receptionist you think it’s chickenpox before going in. They may recommend a special appointment time if other patients are at risk. Ask for an urgent GP appointment if: you’re an adult and have chickenpox you’re pregnant and haven’t had chickenpox before and have been near someone with it you have a weakened immune system and have been near someone with chickenpox you think your newborn baby has chickenpox In these situations, your GP can prescribe medicine to prevent complications. You need to take it within 24 hours of the spots coming out.