Chickenpox. Just one of those typical, miserable kid’s ailments.
Will mine get it too?
I don’t say ‘typical’ for no reason, because almost every child will get chickenpox at a certain point. And in that same sentence ‘miserable’, because in extreme cases your child can be covered from top to toe with the corresponding spots, blisters and scabs that can cause a lot a itching. Argh!! Even in the mouth and between the hair. The ichting provokes scratching, the scratching the risk of getting an infection which increases the chance of scarring. And if there’ something we are wary of besides the discomfort caused from pox like the sleepless nights and crying, it’s the risk of scars.
My kids suffered from Chickenpox simultaneously, Yara at age 2 who was infected via kindergarden and Melle (5 at the time) got it from his sister… hooray! There’s no medication availble unfortunately to help chickenpox heal faster. It’s very contagious but will also pass within 10 days. You can however help you child by relieving the itch and by doing so, prevent the risk of infection and scarring.
Chickenpox is a children’s disease that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, family of the herpes virus. Over the whole body spots, blisters and scabs can occur. And if so unlucky, even in the mouth, on the head and between the hairs. Almost everybody gets chickenpox once as a child, usually in winter time or at the start of the spring and before the age of 9 years.
Will it come back again?
You want to make sure that your kid chickenpox as soon as possible – although not before the age of 6 months. Because it’s better realy when your child has had it before the age of 9 because this way the chance of reoccurance at an older age is less then 5%. This is due to the produced antibodies in our body. At an older age this disease can have a much more severe course meaning you can get pretty sick from it. You don’t hear parents speak of the so called ‘pox parties’ for no reason at kindergarden…
Weird but true, this ailment will first present itself as a common cold. You little one can have a fever, be pendant and feel sick. Sometimes even before the typical skin rash, the chickenpox, is visible. The skin rash forms little spots and blisters over the whole body which usually commences on the chest, back and the face and from here will spread to the remaining of the body. Often the spots also occur in the mouth, in the hair and on the eye lids.
Will those blisters stay on for long? The terrible itching blisters dry out and develop into scabs which, in most cases, will disappear after 10 days. Generally, it is a very contagious but innocent disease which makes kids hardly ill but causes a lot of itching as a result of the blisters.
Some of the symptoms highlighted:
Starts with a common cold
Your child can get a fever, is pendant and feels sick
Skin rash appears in the form of little red spots and blisters over the whole body (also in for example the mouth, head, ears and vagina)
Itching, a lot of itching as a result of the skin rash
Blisters dry out to scabs
Scabs dissapear after 10 days
Causes & Triggers
How does chickenpox originate?
Chickenpox is a kid’s ailment caused by the varicella-zoster virus, family of the herpesvirus. By the time the recognizable skin rash is visible your child can already have transmitted the disease or received it. It’s a very contagious disease meaning that someone with chickenpox could easily transmit the virus to your child. The virus spreads via the air (for example by coughing and sneezing), body fluid (saliva) or via direct contact with the blisters. From 2 days before the appearance of the first blisters up to 10 days after the blisters have dried out, you child can infect others. After contamination it takes up to a maximum of 3 weeks before the spots will develop.
Do I run the risk myself of becoming infected?
It’s wise to stay away from an infected child with chickenpox for pregnant women, a new-born babies or in case of an have an altered immune system. For these people chickenpox can be dangerous
Advice & Tips
Stop the scratching as fast as you can!
Therefore, try to make sure that your little one has as little itching as possible so the urge to scratch is suppressed. This is possible by using an itching surpressing product which prevents an infection and the risk of scarring, which happens to 1 out of 5 children. A visit to the GP isn’t necessary but if you child gets a fever or has an inflected skin (red and thickened) because of scratching the blisters, it is advized to contact your GP.
How do you prevent the scratching and those awful scars? Because scratching causes an infection of the skin and increases the risk for scarring. What can you do to reduce the scratching and/or prevent:
Keep the nails of your kid clean and short
Place goves or socks on the hands if you notice your child scratches a lot. Or, sew the ends of the sleeves together. This might sound a little harsh but will prevent a lot of hassle of continuously having to put the gloves back on again. And so the stress.
You can bath you child without worries
At occurrence of painful blisters in the mouth a popsicle or cold drink can help to sooth the pain temporarely
If your child feels well it can go to school or kindergarden. Your child is already contagious two days before the blisters appear and so has already infected other kids. Keeping your kid at home in this stage doesn’t help preventing other kids to get infected. However, it is always appreciated to discuss policy with the school or kindergarden.
Try to distract your little one as much as possible: by reading playing a game.
Did you just book a holiday and your child has to fly? Contact the concerned airline regarding the rules about chickenpox.
There is no medication that helps to prevent chickenpox or that ensure a faster recovery. It is a matter of dealing with it. However, you can relieve the itching and with it the discomfort your child might experience by applying a cooling gel on the affected areas.
What do you use to relief the itching?
Cooling fluid (lotio alba, which is a zinc-lotion)
Cooling menthol gel
Treat the spots twice a day or whenever cooling is needed.
Do you know about the tric with oatmeal?
Last but not least, place your child into an oatmeal or bran bath before treating the blisters. That worked perfectly with my kids. You fill a washing cloth with oatmeal or barn, close it with an elastic band and placed it in a filled bath. Don’t use any soap or bath foam! The oatmeal extract will cause the water to color white, milk-like and will relief the itching. After bathing, gently dab the skin dry, do not rub the skin and immediately start treating the spots with a cooling emulsion. A happy kid, a happy mum!
How to continue?
How to continue with chickenpox?
Normally your little one will have recovered from chickenpox within 10 days. After which it is protected against the disease due to the anitbodies produced by the body. The chance to occur chickenpox a 2nd time is less than 5%. The virus can be left behind in the body in a latent form (meaning not active) but your little one will not be aware. Sometimes it can take many years before the virus will show up again, then it might cause a local skin rash. This is called shingles (herpes zoster). But you shouldn’t worry about this right now.