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Caring for Children with Chickenpox

Posted: May 13th, 2019

Chickenpox is a very infectious disease caused by a virus. Even though the chickenpox vaccine has lessened the number of cases, there are still children who contract this condition every year. A blistering, spreadable, itchy rash and scabs are the most common symptoms of chickenpox. Your child may also experience a fever, tiredness, loss of appetite and headache. For the most part, parents can lessen their child’s symptoms and help them to avoid skin infections.

Dermatologists recommend the following tips to help care for your child: 1. Keep your child at home. Since chickenpox is infectious, it is important to keep your child at home and away from other people for about 7 days until all the blisters have developed scabs. 2. Soaking in colloidal oatmeal baths. Colloidal oatmeal is sold at your local pharmacy and will help soothe the itch. While the tub is filling with lukewarm water, add some of the oatmeal. 3. Use a topical ointment after bathing. Calamine lotion, petroleum jelly or fragrance-free, anti-itch lotions are best. Do not use over-the-counter topical antibiotics since these may trigger an allergic reaction. 4. Reduce fever. Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen but avoid aspirin or medications that contain aspirin. Using aspirin to treat chickenpox may cause Reye’s syndrome—a severe disease of the brain and liver that could be fatal. 5. Soothe the itch. Use an over-the counter oral antihistamine for children to relieve itchy skin. 6. Trim your child’s fingernails short. This will eliminate skin infections that are a result of scratching the blisters. Putting socks or mittens on young children will prevent scratching, which will eliminate scarring. 

Generally, for most healthy kids, chickenpox will clear up on its own. However, it is advised to see a board-certified dermatologist if your newborn has chickenpox or if you have a child with a weakened immune system or if the blisters get infected. 

American Academy of Dermatology