Chicken Pox

Identifying and treating chicken pox

Chicken pox is one of the most common childhood illnesses in America. There are few people who haven't experienced the itch and discomfort of the red spots and fever. However, what you may not know is that chicken pox, though mostly a harmless disease, can carry complications that can harm your child and those around them. This is why it is important to consider vaccinating your child with the chicken pox vaccine, which can protect your child from the virus. However, if you choose not to vaccinate, here are some signs and symptoms to look out for if you suspect your child has become infected with the chicken pox virus.

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What Do Chicken Pox Look Like?

Even before the pox themselves are visible, chicken pox symptoms are relatively easy to spot. They start as flu-like symptoms a day or two before the rash breaks out. Your child may run a low-grade fever, suffer from aches and pains, and have a mild headache.

The rash emerges on the second day and is usually very itchy. The blisters can – and often do – appear anywhere on the face, head and body, but they normally show up first on the scalp. They will be raised, red bumps on your child's skin, which may weep a little fluid. Try to discourage scratching, as the pox can scar. New blisters stop forming within five days, and by the sixth day, the blisters will have scabbed over. Your child is no longer contagious by this point.

Preventing or Treating Chicken Pox

Treating the symptoms of chicken pox is relatively easy; your goal is to try and give your child relief from itching. Chicken pox respond especially well to calamine lotion or an oatmeal bath. Also, do your best to bring down your child's fever. Offer them fluids and clear liquids and soups during the illness to keep them hydrated. Your child may not have much of an appetite at this time – don't force them too hard to eat, but keep pushing liquids.

Keep your child away from anyone who has not had chicken pox or anyone who is pregnant. Chicken pox and pregnancy are a very dangerous combination – a pregnant woman can get severely ill if she has not had chicken pox and contracts the virus, and it can also affect her developing baby.

Because it is so easy for chicken pox to spread in a classroom or child care center, and because the same virus that causes chicken pox also causes shingles, chicken pox vaccinations are being more and more commonly recommended by medical professionals.