The good news is that in most cases chickenpox is usually mild and clears up in a week or two, but it can be dangerous for pregnant women, newborn babies and people with a weakened immune system so if you or your child has chickenpox or shingles you should stay away from places where other people may be.
I’m lucky that My Three have all had chickenpox, but I won’t lie, it was awful for all three of them and they still have scars now from them. Callum got them when he was just 9 months old after my little brother came home from school with them. Fast forward 5 years and both Nathan and James got the dreaded pox exactly two weeks apart. Poor Nathan was covered head to toe in them and even missed our family trip to Goodwood Festival of Speed because of them. We left him with his grandparents and it was probably a good thing that he was at home as it was the middle of June and the hottest day of the year, but when we got home we were told that he has scratched a lot due to the spots itching and even lukewarm baths and tons of calamine lotion did nothing to stop them for irritating him.
Chickenpox is highly contagious and it’s hard to prevent it from spreading around when an outbreak occurs as it’s most contagious just before the spots appear and it’s not until these spots appear that most parents realise that their child is poorly. Symptoms to watch out for include:
- feeling tired and unwell
- a high temperature of 38C or over
- feeling sick
- a headache
- aching, painful muscles
- loss of appetite
Not everyone will get these symptoms and they tend to be more common and more severe in older children and adults. After a few days of these symptoms, the spots will arrive. Your child may have one or two spots to start with and you may not even suspect chickenpox at first. You will definitely know that they have chickenpox though once the spots start multiplying (and they can do so very quickly).
The spots start as a small, raised red rash. They can appear anywhere on the body. Within a couple of hours or the next day, the spots change to fluid-filled blisters – which are very itchy. Within a few days, the blisters begin to dry out and scab over. chickenpox is contagious until every blister has scabbed over.
Ways you can help relieve the symptoms of chickenpox include:
- Take paracetamol if you or your child have a high temperature and feel unwell. Never take anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, as they can sometimes make people with chickenpox very ill.
- It is important to keep fluid intake up to avoid dehydration (ice lollies are a great way to get fluid into small children) and you should try to eat normally if you can but sometimes it’s best to eat soft foods and avoid foods that are salty or spicy.
- Try not to itch the spots as this can lead to infections and scarring. If you find that you or your children are itching a lot you could use a cooling gel like ViraSoothe to ease your symptoms.