Chickenpox is a viral infection that is a nuisance and highly contagious. It may lead to serious complications including staph skin infection, encephalitis, and deafness. The advent and requirement for chicken pox (Varicella) shot has reduced the incidence of this disease and it complications. The more the recent recommendation for a second Varicella shot should reduce this even further.
Chicken pox causes itching, red bumps that develop blisters that open, drain and then dry up. Children with chickenpox usually start to feel better 4-5 days. They are no longer contagious once all the sores have crusted over, which is usually about 7 days after the start of the rash. The infected child should be kept away from other children who have not had chickenpox. Sometimes cold, cough and sore throat may be associated with chickenpox. After exposure to a person with chickenpox, another person may come down with chickenpox 11-21 days later. If someone has had chickenpox or Varicella vaccine, they are unlikely to catch it.
Neosporin may help with minor infections, but any child with any sores that are red and infected should be seen promptly by Dr. Eisner, because of possible staph infection.
Shingles occur only in people who have had chickenpox, or the vaccine. After that, the chickenpox virus stays permanent on our nervous system (in the dorsal riot ganglia), and may flare up with severe stress. The shingles vaccine is recommended for people over 60, is essentially for chickenpox vaccine. We hope that the recommended second dose of Varicella will also provide some protection against shingles.
To prevent the sores from becoming infected with bacteria, trim the child’s fingernails short. Also wash his/her hands with an antibacterial soap (i.e. Dial, Soft-soap, Ivory Soap) frequently during the day. For the young babies who are itching badly, you may want to cover their hands with cotton socks.
An effective treatment for the skin discomfort and itching is lukewarm bath every 3-4 hours for the first 2-3 days. Calamine lotion can be purchased over the counter and placed on itchy spots. If itching is not controlled with baking soda and calamine lotion, an over the counter antihistamine such as Benadryl, Claritin, or Zyrtec can be beneficial.
I recommend not giving products containing aspirin when your child has chickenpox, because of the possibility that aspirin may increase the likelihood of Reye’s syndrome after chickenpox. Therefore is your child is uncomfortable or has fever, I recommend using products containing acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol)