What it is
Chicken Pox or varicella is a very infectious disease in children caused by Varicella zoster virus. This virus transfers from one person to another through skin contact or through sneezing or coughing. Once your child gets chicken pox, he will be immune to the disease afterwards, although traces will be left of it and may appear during adulthood as shingles.[pq]The disease (Chicken Pox) is contagious one day before eruption appears in an infected person and on the fifth to the sixth day after the formation of the last scab.[/pq]
- Infants and young children usually don’t look ill and are often playful despite the illness.
- Symptoms appear two to three weeks after the child’s exposure to infection. Within 24 hours from onset of fever, a rash appears on the skin, beginning as small, red spots but eventually developing into fluid-filled blisters.
- These blisters may appear anywhere in the body including the scalp, in and around the eyes, and in genital area. These are extremely itchy. They also form scabs that fall off in about a week.
Ways to prevent/treat
- To prevent chicken pox, have your child vaccinated with the varicella vaccine.
- Give your child cool baths every three to four hours to ease skin discomfort and itching.
- Use calamine lotion or ice cubes in every itchy spots.
- Give antihistamine if severe itchiness disturbs your child’s sleep.
- Give paracetamol for fever above 38.5 degree Celcius — Do not give aspirin; it is linked with Reye’s syndrome.
- Prevent sores from becoming infected — trim your child’s fingernails; wash his hands with water and antibacterial soap often.
- For very young babies, cover hands with mittens to prevent scratching.
See the doctor if:
- You see signs of infected pox marks (redness, presence of yellow pus)
- Child develops specked red rash
- Child looks very sick