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My Child Has Chickenpox — What To Do and How To Treat It

My Child Has Chickenpox — What To Do and How To Treat It

Chickenpox is a contagious disease that commonly occurs to children. Children who are infected with chickenpox need to rest at home to recover faster and prevent transmission of the disease to others. What are the causes, characteristics or symptoms of chickenpox in children? Here’s everything you need to know, especially what to do for chicken pox treatment.

Cause

Why Does Chickenpox Happen?

The cause of chickenpox in children is exposure to the herpes varicella-zoster virus. This virus is transmitted through droplets from an infected person’s mouth when coughing or sneezing.

Apart from saliva, the virus can also be transmitted and transferred through the fluid in chickenpox spots. The virus will remain contagious until all the blisters on the patient’s skin dry up.

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Symptoms

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Chickenpox in Children?

The symptoms of chickenpox usually only appear 4-5 days after the child develops a fever.

In contrast to measles, the rash and watery spots of chickenpox appear within 10-21 days after the child is first exposed to the virus.

Some of the signs and symptoms of chickenpox in children that you should pay attention to are:

  • Fever. It will usually peak (38.8º Celsius) on the third or fourth day.
  • Feeling tired and unwell
  • Loss of appetite
  • A red rash that usually starts from the area around the head and back, then spreads throughout the body after 1-2 days
  • The red skin rash will turn into small, fluid-filled spots. The diameter of these spots or bumps that are characteristic of chickenpox in children is usually not more than 0.5 cm.
  • Chickenpox rashes or blisters are also common in the mouth, eyelids, and genitals.

After a few days or weeks, the watery blisters will dry out, peel off, and become scabs. And after the smallpox spots or blisters all come out within a few days, the fever will begin to decrease.

It is possible that your child will not develop a fever on the first day of chickenpox or if the spots are not too severe.

Diagnosis

When Should You Take Your Child to the Doctor?

Chickenpox in children does not require special medical treatment. However, your child will experience considerable discomfort.

Some conditions that require you to immediately consult a doctor are:

  • The child has a high fever for more than 4 days.
  • The child has difficulty breathing and coughs continuously.
  • The rash and its distribution causes the affected skin to become swollen, red, warm, and stinging.
  • The blisters oozes pus or yellowish fluid, instead of clear one.
  • The child has a severe headache and a stiff neck.
  • The child is restless and experiences difficulty waking up.
  • Children have difficulty seeing in a bright room.
  • The child is vomiting or unable to feed/eat.

Generally, the diagnosis of chickenpox is fairly easy. The doctor will perform a physical examination to identify the symptoms of chickenpox.

Next, the doctor will prescribe chicken pox treatment and medications that help relieve symptoms and shorten the phase of disease progression.

Complications

Can Chickenpox in Children Have Complications?

Parents need to know that chickenpox can be a serious disease for anyone when complications occur. The same is true for infants, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.

Some complications that can occur are:

  • Secondary bacterial infections of the skin, soft tissues, bones, and joints
  • Dehydration
  • Pneumonia
  • Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
  • Reye’s syndrome in children taking aspirin
  • Death

Chicken Pox Treatment

What Is the Chicken Pox Treatment for Children?

There are several methods of chicken pox treatment.

First, consult a doctor to get chicken pox treatment medicine for children.

Although this disease can subside on its own, children can experience severe discomfort with the symptoms of chickenpox.

In addition, if parents let chickenpox resolve on its own, it can, at times, lead to complications such as secondary bacterial infections of the skin.

The following can be done at home as chicken pox treatment:

1. Administer Acyclovir

Acyclovir is an oral antiviral prescription drug that is best given within 24 hours of the first symptoms of chickenpox appearing.

According to research in the New England Journal of Medicine, acyclovir can reduce the number of smallpox blisters and shorten the time of illness. However, the complication rate of chickenpox cannot be reduced.

In addition, Acyclovir should be used routinely for five consecutive days. This drug is reported to have few side effects.

Acyclovir can also be used in children who have a deficiency in the immune system, are taking steroids, or have pre-existing skin diseases or weakened lung conditions.

2. Relieve the Fever

Give acetaminophen as a chickenpox medicine to the child for the first few days if he shows symptoms of fever.

However, do not give ibuprofen because it is feared to cause the risk of severe secondary strep infection side effects.

Do not give aspirin to toddlers and small children with chickenpox because a possible side effect is brain damage.

3. Prevent Children from Scratching

The rash or spots of chickenpox can cause itching, so your child will often scratch certain parts of the skin.

In fact, there is a risk of complications due to constantly scratching the skin affected by chickenpox, namely impetigo, a skin infection by bacteria. Therefore, stopping the habit of scratching is the first step to chicken pox treatment. You can do this through the following methods:

  • Regularly trim your child’s nails to keep them short.
  • Make sure your child always washes their hands with soap regularly to avoid germs that may infect their skin.
  • Do not let your child scratch and scrape the smallpox nodules, especially on the face.
  • At night, have your child wear gloves, long clothes, or socks that cover the skin affected by chickenpox.
  • Children need to wear loose and soft clothes so their skin can breathe and not be scratched easily.

4. Relieve the Itching

Cold water acts as a compress that relieves itching and redness caused by chickenpox. Encourage your child to soak in cold water for at least 10 minutes every four hours for the first few days.

Bathing is safe as a chicken pox treatment. Chickenpox is only transmitted through the air, not water.

To prevent the chickenpox spots from breaking, do not rub with a towel when drying. Gently pat the body instead.

After bathing, you can apply cold powder or lotion (calamine) to relieve itching.

If the child complains of itching that is so severe that it interferes with sleep, give an over-the-counter oral antihistamine drug from the pharmacy.

5. Pay Attention to Food Intake

A high body temperature, pain, and discomfort will also make it difficult for children to eat. And if chickenpox spots also appear in the mouth and throat, your little one will have a hard time swallowing food.

As a chicken pox treatment for children, give them plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

If you have babies who are still actively breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed them regularly.

Avoid giving food that has a strong, salty, sour, or spicy taste because these can make the mouth feel sore. Soft, smooth, and cold foods (such as soups, fat-free ice cream, puddings, jelly, mashed potatoes, and porridge) may be the best choices when your child has chickenpox.

6. Give Your Child Sufficient Rest

In addition to meeting the fluid and nutritional needs of your chlid, make sure they get enough rest.

Rest can help in the process of regenerating white blood cells that play a role in the immune system to fight infection. In addition, resting at home for a week can also prevent the transmission of chickenpox.

7. Overcoming Pain in the Genitals

Pain from chickenpox is common in the genitals and can be very painful for your child.

If your child is a girl and complains of unbearable pain, parents can apply a local anesthesia through an ointment containing 2.5% xylocaine that is sold over-the-counter at pharmacies.

Apply this ointment every 2-3 hours, to relieve pain. A cold soak will also be very helpful.

Will Chickenpox Scars Go Away?

Chickenpox usually doesn’t leave permanent marks on the skin. However, if the child continues to scratch the chickenpox spots until it causes sores and becomes infected, it may cause impetigo, a bacterial skin infection.

It should also be noted that getting rid of smallpox scars takes a long time, at least 6-12 months.

Prevention

Can You Prevent Chickenpox in Children?

Prevention of this disease can be done through the chickenpox vaccine. Doctors recommend that children get this type of vaccine as soon as possible.

  • The first injection is at the age of 12-15 months.
  • Follow-up vaccines should be given between 4-6 years of age.

Vaccines can also be given to relieve the severity of chickenpox in children, especially when symptoms interfere with the child’s activities. In such cases, make sure your child gets the vaccine no later than five days after first contact with the virus.

Contact your pediatrician or visit the nearest health service center to learn more about the chickenpox vaccine.

In addition to vaccines, chickenpox prevention can also be done by avoiding people who have this disease.

Chickenpox usually only occurs once. After that, the child’s body has immunity against the chickenpox virus in the body for life. It is very rare for chickenpox to recur in adulthood.

Learn more about Infectious Diseases in Children here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Varicella (Chickenpox), https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/vaccine-preventable-diseases/Pages/Varicella-ChickenPox.aspx, Accessed December 7, 2021

Chickenpox in Children, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/chickenpox-in-children, Accessed December 7, 2021

Chickenpox, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chickenpox/symptoms-causes/syc-20351282, Accessed December 7, 2021

Chickenpox, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/chicken-pox.html, Accessed December 7, 2021

About Chickenpox, https://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/about/index.html, Accessed December 7, 2021

HOW TO CARE FOR CHILDREN WITH CHICKENPOX, https://www.aad.org/public/parents-kids/childhood-conditions/chicken-pox, Accessed December 7, 2021

Chickenpox, https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/chickenpox, Accessed December 7, 2021

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Written by Hello Sehat Updated May 13
Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD