It’s a parent’s nightmare, when you first see the dreaded red blistering spots appearing over your little ones body and know that chickenpox has arrived. Be reassured that it had to happen one day, and it could turn out to be a mild case. Chickenpox is a common virus spread by coughing, sneezing and sometimes even breathing in the same air as an infected person.
Coming from the varicella zoster virus, the reason chickenpox is so easily spread and so hard to avoid is that until those spots appear at around day 14, you won’t even know your little one has caught the virus, let alone be able to treat it. Usually the virus is contracted up to 10 days before some mild flu-like symptoms appear. They may have been grumpy, tired, off their food, or they may just not be like themselves in a general, hard-to-put- your-finger- on-it way, but only once the red pimple like spots appear will you know what was causing their trouble. There can be up to 500 of these spots over your little ones body, or there may only be a few. You will find them everywhere, on their scalp, in their mouth, over every inch of their body, sometimes even on their tongue, ouch!
Symptoms and Treatment
Chickenpox shows no real symptoms until the red blistering spots begin to appear on the skin. When they do appear try to help your little one avoid scratching as bursting the blisters will help the virus to spread to its next victim and can leave scars on your baby for years to come. The best treatments are a bath every few hours to relieve the itching, followed by some calamine lotion. Make sure your little ones nails are kept short so they can’t scratch and break the blisters. If your child is very young, use scratch mitts, for older children the only way to stop the scratching is to distract them. Choosing toys that involve both hands such as jigsaws can make a big difference as when the hands are busy, there is less scratching and fewer scars.
When to Contact a Doctor
Always contact your GP to get them to confirm your diagnosis, simply even just for reassurance that you are doing everything correctly. If your baby has a fever and you can’t bring it down, of course you should contact your GP. Sometimes your little one may have picked at their blisters until they have become infected, if it’s comes to this point contact your GP for advice and they will prescribe you some medicated cream. If you think they need it, call your GP about getting some form of antihistamine to relieve their itchiness. Always contact your GP if you feel that your little one is more poorly than you think they should be, if the spots have become irritated, or if they have spread to your little one’s eyes.
Don’t believe everything you hear about chickenpox, even once spots are visible your baby can still catch or spread the virus from the fluid that leaks from any broken blisters. If your little one is in nursery, playgroup or goes to a weekly class, until their blisters have crusted over you are better to keep them at home, as going out before this may easily spread the infection to other babies. Also they will probably feel more comfortable at home where you can give them any attention they need. It can be a relief for some parents to see their child with chickenpox as most of the time, once your baby has contracted the virus, it is unlikely to return again, although it is possible to catch again.