When Chicken Pox Strikes

chicken pox on a child's back

Chicken pox has finally reached us after knowing quite a few people coming down with it in the last few months and it hitting pre-school just recently too. It is inevitable when your child comes into close contact with so many other children but it was still a surprise and then the realisation hit that we didn’t actually know anything about what we needed to do.

Both myself and my husband had it as kids and I have the scars to prove it but it was so long ago that I don’t actually remember how long I had it for, how it affected me or what my parents used to help. Of course, the first thing I did was hit the internet and asked other parents in a group and began to Google chicken pox. I decided to pop all my findings into a blog post so I could help other parents who may be unknowingly about to go through this virus.

What is Chicken Pox?

It is a virus that spreads from person to person either via touch, bodily fluids such as sneezes and even through the air just from being in the same room as somebody for 15 minutes. The results of which won’t be seen for 1-3 weeks after the infection has been caught. It will then cause mild cold symptoms, fever, tiredness, aching muscles and, of course, spots and rashes. It is usually mild but in some cases, especially for those with weakened immune systems, it can become far more serious.

Early Symptoms

Most children will become run down and have a cold in the run-up to the spots appearing. Jake had been fighting a bad cold and we visited the doctor about his cough as it had become worse over the weeks. He was also more irritable, stroppy and very tired. Two days before any spots appeared he did moan that his skin was itchy.

The Spots

I assumed that the spots all appeared at once but this isn’t the case. The child will usually start to get spots which may look more like bites – red and slightly raised from the skin. Over the next day or so these will increase in number and become more prominent. Within the next 24 hours, these begin to fill with fluid and blister and this is when they become extremely itchy. At this stage, you need to be vigilant in preventing your child from scratching too much because this can result in scarring. The final stage happens approximately 5-7 days after the first spots appeared and this is where they start to scab over. Until they have all scabbed over the virus is still contagious. These scabs will fall off in around 2 weeks.

Treating Chicken Pox

Paracetamol will help with the fever, pains and aches. DO NOT give Nurofen as the anti-inflammatory can aggravate the spots and cause further issues. Calamine lotion, Poxclin mousse, cooling lotions, moisturisers etc will help with the itchiness and keep the skin hydrated. Also, provide plenty of water. This is a virus and you need to treat it as you would any other one. Hydration is very important, especially with a fever.

For more information on Chicken Pox, you can visit the NHS website.

Oat baths came up time and time again when I was looking into Chicken Pox and I was really surprised at this being a remedy. It turns out that oats are great for your skin because they contain fats and sugars which both have positive effects on dry skin, bites, rashes and chicken pox. Both are lubricants and when bathed in they will leave a residue on your skin. The oats also contain substances called avenanthramides which act as anti-histamines. The best way to add oats to your bath is by placing them in a sock or a muslin and allowing the water from the tap to run over them. The water will gradually turn cloudy and you will be able to feel the oily residue when you wash the water over your child’s body.

I always like to hear from parents who have been through situations before as I believe experience is much better advice than just reading about any facts and figures. Here are a few tips from some Mum’s who helped me out:

Rebecca –

When my daughter had it I didn’t tell her it was pox. I gave her liquid Piriton every 4 hours for the itching and Poxclin mousse for the spots. She hardly suffered and didn’t have many spots, all depends on the child! I personally wouldn’t go out as the elderly can get shingles from chicken pox.

Sarah –

We used Poxclin mousse, Piriton syrup and oaty baths. He literally hardly scratched at all. 

Katie –

We went to the doctors when my child had them and he gave us a cream and liquid Piriton. They do say not to give it to under 1s but you can buy it for children older than 1 without a prescription. We put socks or gloves on his hands when he slept as that’s when he’d try to scratch most.

Jen –

Just a warning on the Piriton in case you’ve not used it before, most kids go sleepy on it, a rare few go hyperactive instead. We used Calpol mainly and Virasoothe gel was good for the itching. General advice I think is to avoid contact with anyone who hasn’t had it or who has a reduced immune system, so elderly or anyone on any medication that impacts immunity.

Natasha –

Calamine lotion is good but don’t give Nurofen.

Natalie –

Do not go visit anyone who is pregnant or anyone with a newborn! Wait around 3 weeks when you know your child is definitely all clear.

Always seek medical attention or phone 111 if you are concerned at any time. 

And don’t forget yourselves. Nights will most probably be sleepless so if you are in a couple make sure you take it in turns to get up, to give fluids or medicine and sleep the best way you can… co-sleeping may be your best bet. If you are the sole parent I would get a friend or family member to give you a hand. Tiredness on top of caring for your child as well as being stuck indoors can make you go slightly crazy! To distract both yourself and your child from the tiredness, spots and irritations keep yourself busy at home with some of these fun activities.

I hope you get through this time easily

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