Chickenpox strikes: What happened and what you need to know.
Last week the dreaded chickenpox struck our house. Actually It feels like it’s hit most houses in the north west of England! I’m guessing it’s probably got something to do with
- My daughter being in reception.
- Most of my friends have children same age.
- We all like to use social media to broadcast the news.
Being little when I had it, I don’t remember what it was like though my mum says I didn’t really suffer badly. My OH had it fairly bad as a child.
How it started. (Although it could have anything from 10-21 days after exposure)
Pops felt ill for 2 days
- Achy limbs
Then we had a day where she felt well and we just thought she’d had a virus that had now passed.
What happened next.
The next day she had 3 little spots on her tummy. I sent her into school as she was fine, there were no blisters. Chicken pox was rife in the school so I was suspicious.
Later that day I had the call to collect her. She had a few more spots but looked well and was still skipping out of school with a smile on her face.
Over the next 24-36 hrs she came out in more spots. Mainly on her tummy and back, some on her face and scalp and a couple on her legs. The first spots had blistered and were now scanning over. The new spots had blisters.
She was fine. I think in comparison to some others she had a mild case. Friends told me their children had spots in all over and in some rather unfavourable sites. For example in the mouth, nostrils, on eyelids and genitals. For some it sounded horrendous.
Where are we now.
Some spots have gone. The rest are healing well. Some still a little scabby. She is completely fine. Now we are just waiting to see if Pud gets it!
What did we use to help her skin
We made sure she wore light clothing that allowed her skin to breathe. She had a couple of doses of children’s paracetamol too.
- An oat bath. I filled a sock with good old porridge oats and tied a knot in it. Then placed it in a warm bath. She loved this. It was all silky apparently. She didn’t want to get out. She did say the spots were less itchy.
- Coconut oil. A natural way to ease the itching and aid healing.
I was recommended numerous other topical agents but never needed to try them as she recovered really well.
- Calamine cream
This is mixed with zinc oxide. It relieves the itching by reducing skin inflammation and helps the skin to heal.
- Lavender and/or Tea Tree oil
A couple of drops in the bath is said to aid healing and help ‘clean’ the sores. One of the risks with chicken pox are the open sores becoming infected. Bear in mind essential oils are strong and on delicate children’s skin you only need a couple of drops diluted in the bath. Never apply directly to the skin.
- Bicarbonate of Soda
A small cupful in the bath helps to ease the itching.
- Wearing gloves at night
I’m not sure that if we’d tried this she would have kept them on. However it’s one way of preventing scratching in their sleep.
- Keep their nails short and hands clean.
Long nails and dirty hands could lead to infection in the sores which could end up needing treatment.
A few facts worth knowing
- The virus spreads through the air when in close proximity to someone who is contagious. Or through direct contact with saliva or the fluid from the blisters.
Someone with chickenpox is contagious from 48hrs prior to spots appearing until all spots have scabbed over.
- The incubation period is 10-21 days after exposure.
- Avoid public places whilst still contagious.
- In most cases, the infection is mild and does not require input from the GP.
- Don’t give Aspirin to children with Chickenpox. It is also thought best to avoid Ibuprofen too.
- Contact GP if the child
- has a persistent or very high temperature
- Is scratching so badly that they are becoming distressed and not sleeping. It may be possible for the GP to prescribe an antihistamine. If the child is under 2 then it has to be prescribed. If over 2 then can be bought via advice from the pharmacist.
- If the sores look infected.
- If you notice discharge from the ears and/or balance is affected.
- If you do visit the GP’s it is advisable to avoid anyone who is visibly pregnant.
- Chickenpox is also known as Varicella Zoster Virus.
- You cannot catch shingles from someone else.
- You can only get shingles if you’ve had Chickenpox. It is caused by the same virus. The
- Chickenpox virus remains inactive in the body after you’ve been infected. Shingles is where the virus becomes active again. Usually due to a weakened immune system.
- You can catch Chickenpox from shingles if you haven’t already had Chickenpox.
Talking of pregnancy
Most adults in the U.K. have had Chickenpox and are therefore immune. This means that neither you or your baby are at risk if you come into contact with Chickenpox.
If you are pregnant, unsure if you have had Chickenpox and have had close contact with someone who has Chickenpox, then call your maternity unit asap. They can usually test a sample of blood taken at your initial visit for immunity. If you are immune, panic over. If not then the hospital will contact your GP. They will ask you about any symptoms you may or may not have developed and then may recommend an injection containing varicella zoster immunoglobulins. This needs to be given within 10 days of contact to be effective.
If you develop shingles in pregnancy, it is usually mild and is not dangerous.
Why is it called ‘Chickenpox’?
I won’t bore you with the details but I looked it up as my daughter was asking. ‘Let’s see if google knows’ I said! It’s actually quite boring. It’s thought to be either down to old english words and the translation of ‘varicella’ or the confusion between small pox and varicella. Varicella being thought as the coward version of small pox ‘chicken pox’! Try telling that a four year old!
Need more info…visit the NHS help page