We all dread our children catching the chickenpox, but at the same time, we are relieved because it is over and done with. Over the Easter holidays, my youngest daughter (18 months) caught chickenpox. I was relieved it was during the school holidays because I had the time off too. I could care for her myself, just as well because she was quite poorly with it, and she became very clingy.

So what is chickenpox?

The term ‘Chickenpox’ is thought “to be derived from chickpeas, based on the resemblance of the vesicles to chickpeas, or to come from the rash resembling chicken pecks” taken from wikipedia.

Chickenpox is also known as varicella, and it is very contagious. It is classed as an airborne disease, usually affecting children, but can affect adults.

How do I catch it?

Chickenpox is an airborne disease. Droplets carried through the air from coughs and sneezing of an infected person. You won’t know your child has necessarily caught chicken pox until the first spots appear. Many parents take their child to a friend’s house where their child has the virus, in the hope of catching it. The incubation period is between 7-21 days so it can be a while before you will know if the chickenpox party was a success. Chickenpox is highly contagious a few days before the spots appear, and whilst the spots are in the blister form.

Symptoms

“Sometimes other symptoms may start a day or two before the rash appears.

These can include:

  • feeling tired and generally unwell
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or over
  • feeling sick
  • headache
  • aching, painful muscles
  • loss of appetite

Not everyone has these symptoms.” NHS.UK

Both my daughters were 18 months when they caught chickenpox, my eldest caught in in March 2013, and my youngest caught it April 2017 (Spring time). Both also had conjunctivitis before the onset of the spots and a heavy cold. Coincidence??

Treatment

Thankfully chickenpox is a mild disease and can be treated at home. There are many products on the market that can help relieve the itchiness.

-Calamine lotion (dabbed on with cotton wool balls, and keep the lotion in the fridge for extra cooling effect)

-Calpol (for pain, comfort and if they have a temperature)

-Virasoothe (cooling gel)

-Sudocrem, bepanthen, metanium (for the nappy area)

-Poxclin (cooling mousse)

-Baths (lukewarm with oats in, it can help dry the spots out quicker and provide itch relief)

DO NOT USE ANTI-IMMFLAMOROTY MEDICINES (IBUPROFEN) IT CAN MAKE CHICKENPOX WORSE

Handy Tips

-Keep nails short

-Mittens, gloves (we used our scratchsleeves because she suffers from eczema anyway- highly recommend)

-Cool, loose, cotton clothing

-Depending on the age encourage them to tap, rub or smack the itch rather than scratch, scratching can draw blood and lead to infection.

-Drink plenty

-Ice lollies (sugar-free) will help soothe sore spots that can occur in the mouth and gums.

I found it a lot harder this time around with my youngest. Unfortunately, she didn’t understand what was happening, whereas the eldest was very verbal, and could understand a lot of what I was saying to her. She became very clingy, and she slept better in my bed with me. During this period, she also suffered from temperatures ranging between 38.7- 40.2. It was an awful time. She also developed a hacking cough, which just added to the discomfort she was already in. As time went by, the itching reduced and things got better, thankfully. I kept her dosed up with Piriton, to help the itching, it did make her very sleepy, which I felt awful for at the time, but at the same time, she couldn’t itch when she was asleep and woke up in a better frame of mind for a little while. She didn’t eat a great deal either, she had the chicken pox in her mouth, and a nasty one on her gum, and tongue. She was covered, the poor little mite.

I never really appreciated the severity of chickenpox, and I know some children get it far worse than we did. So hats off to those parents.

Let us know your experiences of the chickenpox, or any handy tips you would like to share with other parents