Monday, March 21, 2011

Dealing With Chicken Pox in Children

The other week my eldest son, Emmuel, contacted chicken pox from his classmate despite the fact that he had already received the chicken pox vaccine when he was 1 year old. It was actually during their 4th quarter exams that he had this, so he had to take special exams.

Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral disease caused by the varicella zoster virus. It can be spread via air, by direct contact or through food, water or insects. A person with chickenpox is infectious from 1-5 days before the rash appears and continues to be contagious for 4 to 5 days more after the appearance of the rash, or until all lesions have crusted over. It is usually characterized by red, itchy spots that become fluid-filled blisters and then scabs.  Sometimes, it is accompanied by headache and slight fever. It is rarely fatal and resolves by itself but pregnant women should not have it as its effects on the fetus can range in severity from underdeveloped toes and fingers to severe anal and bladder malformation.

Fluid-filled Chicken pox spots. Image by Jonny McCullagh. Wikimedia Commons.
There is a difference, however, between the chicken pox of those who had the vaccine and those who had not. Emmuel's chicken pox had spots that were not fluid-filled and were not as much. It simply looked like an ordinary pimple. But the itchiness is still there. He didn't have any headache or fever. The spots were already drying up as early as 4 days.

When dealing with chicken pox, the greatest concern I think is the itchiness. It is really frustrating to have itchiness all over the body and my son had trouble sleeping through the night and concentrating on reviewing for his exams also.

Treatment of chicken pox in children include
  • Apply anti-itching lotion like calamine lotion to the rash. Some use a lotion made of baking soda with water and sponge it onto the skin of the child to ease the itching. 
  • Keep the child at home and isolated if possible so that he could not infect others; and 
  • Discourage him from scratching. If you ask me, it is quite impossible to prevent the child from scratching so be sure to cut his nails short and keep him clean.
  • Older children than one year may be given antihistamine tablets or liquid medicines to help the child when he is not able to sleep because of the itching. I did give Emmuel a few doses to help lessen the itch a bit. I just don't know how much it really helped.
  • Some children who are at risk of having chicken pox complications should see their doctor who might give them an antiviral medication.
I would encourage moms and dads to give their children the chicken pox vaccine. In some countries, it is not part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule. I was anticipating that my 4 other children will contact the disease since they have not had it before. A friend pediatrician told me that it was 90% contagious. I was so glad that none of them had it, thanks to the protection that the chicken pox vaccination gave them. But according to what I read the protection is not lifelong and a follow-up vaccination is necessary 5 years after the initial immunization. That is probably the reason why Emmuel had it. He did not have a follow-up immunization and he is now 10 years old.


    2 comments:

    aynzan said...

    One time mywhole family wasdown with chickenpox.We used a kind of leaf to soothe the irritation.

    Chin chin said...

    It is also good I guess that the whole family got the chicken pox at one time...