If there’s an itch you don’t want to scratch, it’s chickenpox. A common infection that most commonly affects children, chickenpox can manifest as a fever, followed by aches, pains and rashes that can cause a degree of discomfort to your child. If you’ve got a little one who hasn’t yet had chickenpox, tuck this guide into your back pocket so that you know just what to do when the itch strikes.
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What Are the Stages of Chickenpox?
Chickenpox appears in two distinct stages, with specific symptoms appearing at each stage:
Stage 1. Fever and Aches
The onset of chickenpox is usually marked by fever and body pain. Your child may also complain of a heavy head and suffer from a loss of appetite. At this stage, you may not realise that these symptoms are tied to chickenpox at all.
Stage 2. Chickenpox Rash
About a day or two after the start of a fever, you will notice the appearance of a widespread rash across your child’s body. Chickenpox spreads quickly, and a flat, reddish rash will wrap across your child’s scalp, face, arms, face and legs. Your child is likely to experience extreme itchiness at this point. Soon enough, the rash will morph into blisters, with more pink spots making an appearance even as older ones mature. The severity of the condition differs from child to child, and while some children experience fewer chickenpox symptoms, others may exhibit more. Blisters take between seven and ten days to turn into scabs.
How Can I Manage My Child’s Chickenpox?
Although common, chickenpox can pose serious dangers to babies and infants. Babies who contract chickenpox in utero carry the risk of being born with birth defects, underdeveloped limbs, scars, compromised eyesight and brain damage. The condition is also dangerous for babies who are less than a month old and for children with a weak immune system. To err on the side of caution, you should be on top of your chickenpox treatment game. Here’s what you can do:
Step 1. Carefully Consider Your Medications
It’s easy to get flustered and pop a quick aspirin into your child’s mouth. But don’t. Aspirin can exacerbate chickenpox, potentially leading to a condition that could prove detrimental to the liver and brain, called Reye’s syndrome. Give your child acetaminophen instead to regulate the fever. In the event that your child develops a severe case of chickenpox, your doctor may recommend antiviral drugs.
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Step 2. Stop the Scratching
Although your child will feel tempted to scratch at the blisters, scratching can lead to permanent scarring. Gently advise your child to refrain from scratching. Offer soothing remedies to ease the itch. You can use lacto calamine lotion or a specialised cream recommended by your doctor.
Should I Call a Doctor?
Usually, chickenpox recedes on its own after following the typical stages detailed earlier in this article. However, there are certain situations that should set the alarm bells ringing in your head. Reach out to a doctor if you notice any of the following:
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- Your child’s initial fever has recurred after a few days.
- Your child’s energy levels have dipped.
- There is a rash inside your child’s mouth.
- Part of the rash has become swollen, sore or engorged.
How Can I Prevent My Child from Developing Chickenpox?
Unlike when we were little, chickenpox can be prevented altogether today, thanks to a special vaccination. A vaccine for chickenpox can create a shield around your child, keeping the virus behind chickenpox at bay. By managing chickenpox well, you can keep your child from scratching the itch. It’s all about being prepared.
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