What to do when your child has chickenpox

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

If your child has chickenpox, should you stay off work for fear of spreading it?

The answer is no. Hopefully you love your work, and having a child with chickenpox is no reason to play hooky. Research shows that if you’ve already had chickenpox, you’ve been carrying the virus responsible for it ever since. This remains dormant forever, unless you come into contact with someone with shingles (which is very different to the pox), which can then re-activate the virus.

What is chickenpox?

The virus called varicella zoster causes chickenpox. It results in a rash of spots that look like blisters all over their bodies. The blisters are small and sit on an area of red skin ranging from the size of a pencil eraser to the size of a dime. If that isn’t fun enough, feeling feverish is also a symptom.

How does chickenpox spread?

Chickenpox is contagious, meaning that a kid who has it can easily spread it to someone else. Your child is most contagious during the first two to five days of being sick – usually about one to two days before the rash shows up. So they could be spreading around chickenpox without even knowing it. Coughing, sneezing, talking and even laughing can cause the spread of chickenpox. As tiny drops full of the virus come out of the mouth and nose, it’s easy for others to breathe in these drops or get them on their hands.

Don’t scratch the spots!

Although your child wants to itch the spots, don’t let them. Instead use plenty of lotions on your little one and try to keep them as cool as possible. What I found to be very useful is to put a cool, wet washcloth on the really bad areas and soak them in a lukewarm bath if it gets too much. Be sure to apply a lot of calamine-based lotion. A great product for soothing itches is PoxClin Cool Mousse.

However, the good news is that thanks to the chickenpox vaccine, lots of kids don’t get chickenpox at all or they tend to have less a severe case of it. Which means they get better quicker.