If you have school-aged children, viruses like chicken pox are probably high on your mind. Chicken pox is a highly contagious virus that’s most common during childhood and results in itchy fluid-filled blisters. It will typically run its course on its own, but it’s quite uncomfortable for its duration. Although there’s no cure for chicken pox, there are helpful chicken pox remedies that will relieve itching and discomfort.
What Is Chicken Pox?
Chicken pox is a common virus that’s characterized by an itchy rash and small, fluid-filled blisters. It’s caused by the varicella-zosta virus and spreads very easily to people who haven’t had the virus or haven’t got the chicken pox vaccine. Once a chicken pox rash appears it goes through three stages:
- Raised bumps, which break out over a few days
- Small fluid-filled blisters, which form in one day and then break and leak
- Crusts and scabs, which take a few more days to heal
Since new bumps can show up for several days, you may have bumps, blisters, and scabs all at the same time. You can spread the virus to others up to 48 hours before a rash appears, and the virus stays contagious until all broken blisters have scabbed over. Chicken pox is most common in young children under the age of 10, but adults are still susceptible and symptoms tend to be more severe.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Chicken Pox?
- Rash that turns into itchy, fluid-filled blisters
- Skin that looks blotchy
- Scabs once the blisters break
- Feeling tired
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach ache that lasts for one or two days
Can I Still Get Chicken Pox If I’ve Had the Vaccine?
Although rare, some people get chicken pox even after vaccination, however they’ll generally have a much milder case of the disease with fewer blisters, lower fever, and more rapid recovery. The vaccine nearly always protects against severe chicken pox.
When to See a Doctor
Chicken pox typically resolves without treatment, however, you should visit your healthcare professional if you or your child has:
- A high fever or a fever that lasts for more than four days
- A new fever that appears after the first couple of days (the fever goes away for a day or so and returns)
- Puss oozing from the sores
- Stiff neck
- Problems breathing
- Severe abdominal pain
- The rash spreads to one or both eyes
- The rash is very warm or tender (could be a sign that it’s infected with bacteria)
- Serious symptoms along with the rash (dizziness, confusion, fast heart beat, shortness of breath, shakiness, etc.)
Some people have a higher risk of complications, and should contact a doctor at the first sign of chicken pox. These include:
- Pregnant women
- People over the age of 12
- People with a weakened immune system
- People with chronic lung or skin conditions
- People undergoing steroid therapy
8 Chicken Pox Remedies to Relieve Itching & Discomfort
1. Calamine Lotion
Calamine lotion is a mixture of zinc oxide and calamine. This combination can help soothe itching and discomfort. Use a clean finger or cotton swab to dab calamine lotion on itchy skin areas, just make sure not to use it around the eyes.
2. Oatmeal Baths
Oatmeal contains anti-inflammatory compounds called beta glucans, which can reduce inflammation, irritation, and the intensity of itchiness. Draw a bath of warm water and add colloidal oatmeal or ground, uncooked oatmeal. Use about one cup of oatmeal for an older child and ⅓ cup for a baby or small child. Soak for no more than 20 minutes.
3. Sugar-Free Popsicles
In some cases, chicken pox can appear inside the mouth, which can be very painful and uncomfortable. Sugar-free popsicles are a great way to soothe mouth sores and get some relief. It also allows your child to get more fluids and avoid dehydration.
4. Baking Soda Baths
For blisters that have ruptured and are oozing fluid, a baking soda bath will bring some relief. Add a cup of baking soda to shallow, lukewarm water to help dry out the blisters and also reduce itching. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes and try to do this two to three times a day. You can also make a paste with baking soda and water, and apply it directly to open blisters.
5. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea can help soothe itching due to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects when applied to the skin. You can place chamomile tea bags in a warm bath, or brew two to three bags of chamomile tea and allow them to cool. Dip soft cotton pads or washcloths into the tea and apply to itchy areas of skin. When you’re done, pat skin gently to dry.
6. Cool Compress
For particularly painful or itchy areas, apply a soft cloth soaked in cold water. Leave it in place for a few minutes up to an hour to ease discomfort and reduce the temptation to scratch. You can also wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it to itchy areas.
7. Cold Soft Bland Foods
Cold, soft, bland foods are another helpful remedy if your child has chicken pox in their mouth. Since sores in your mouth can make eating and drinking difficult, you can minimize discomfort with cold foods that are easy to chew and don’t irritate the mouth. Make sure to avoid salty, spicy and acidic foods until the sores are gone.
8. A Word on Antihistamines and Pain Relievers
Antihistamines such as Benadryl can be helpful when other measures to treat itching aren’t enough. Check with your doctor before giving an antihistamine to your child and don’t exceed the recommended dose. Tylenol is typically the only pain reliever recommended for chicken pox to treat a mild fever and reduce pain.
Do NOT take aspirin if you have chicken pox as it can lead to a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome, which affects your brain and liver and can be deadly in children. Also steer clear of over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil and Aleve. When in doubt, always ask your doctor about taking medication for a virus or giving it to your child.
Chicken pox is not a fun virus to catch, but these remedies will help your child get through it in the most comfortable way possible.
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