Everything You Need to Know About Chickenpox
It’s likely you or someone you know has experienced chickenpox during their childhood and it probably isn’t the fondest memory. In children, chickenpox is usually mild and uncomfortable, so if your child contracts it, don’t worry! On the other hand, if you haven’t yet experienced chickenpox, getting it as an adult can be dangerous to your health, especially if you’re suffering from existing immune system problems. Here’s everything you need to know about it and how you can treat it.
Symptoms of Chickenpox
If you think you or your child has chickenpox, you might be experiencing:
A fever, aches, and pains.
An itchy rash appearing on the scalp and face that spread quickly across the body and form blisters after 1 or 2 days. Children can contract up to 500 blisters, which dry out in 4 to 5 days.
A loss of appetite or constant headaches.
How Chickenpox is Spread
As you might’ve already known, chickenpox is highly contagious and can spread up to 2 days before the rash appears. Chickenpox is contagious until the blisters scab. Here’s how it can spread.
Entering the body by the nose or mouth, the virus develops 2 to 3 weeks after coming into contact with the infected person.
Airborne for several hours, chickenpox can be transmitted if a non-infected person is in the same room as an infected person.
As with other viruses, chickenpox can be spread through direct contact such as accidentally touching a blister.
Pregnant women can pass on chickenpox to their unborn child or shortly after birth.
Chickenpox cannot spread to those who have already contracted it or who have received a chickenpox vaccine. The virus can’t survive on inanimate objects.
As we mentioned, experiencing chickenpox at an extremely early or later age can be a cause for alarm.
Babies who contract chickenpox in the womb can be born with scars, eye problems, deformed limbs, or even brain damage.
In the first month of life, in adolescence, and in adulthood, chickenpox can lead to bigger health problems.
Children with more severe cases of chickenpox can develop pneumonia or brain inflammation.
Bacteria-filled blisters can scar and if not treated properly can lead to a flesh-eating disease.
Can You Get Chickenpox Twice?
Most people will only get chickenpox once in their life but in some rare cases, can contract chickenpox twice, especially if they caught the virus young.
Is Chickenpox the Same as Shingles?
Though caused by the same virus, shingles and chickenpox are different conditions. Shingles usually only appear on one part of the body and can be very painful. They can also occur in people who have already had chickenpox once or twice. Shingles are only contagious to those who have never experienced chickenpox.
How to Treat Chickenpox
Do not give a child with chickenpox aspirin, as this can put them at risk of Reye’s syndrome, which damages the liver and brain. To control their fever, give them acetaminophen instead.
Naturally, you’ll want to keep your child from scratching the blisters. To soothe the rash, place them in a baking soda bath. Some doctors might recommend an itch cream.
If your child is especially young or in their adolescent years, they might be treated with an antiviral medication.
When to Call a Doctor
You won’t have to contact pediatric urgent care as soon as your child gets chickenpox, but there are some circumstances in which you may want to contact your healthcare provider.
If your child redevelops a fever.
If your child is extremely weak and lethargic and has many spots around their mouth.
If a chickenpox spot becomes very enlarged and sore.
Chickenpox and School
As a general rule, don’t let your child attend school for at least 5 days after the rash appears. Most educational institutions will require the child to remain at home anyway to prevent other children from contracting the disease.
Chickenpox in children can be a nuisance, but it’s often very manageable. The better you get to know the virus, the better you’ll be able to handle it properly.
If your child needs urgent care, visit us at Brantford Children’s Clinic for our top-notch pediatric walk-in care. You’re child will be in good hands!