Chickenpox, a common childhood illness caused by a type of herpes virus known as the Varicella-zoster, is one of those illnesses that we all saw everywhere as kids. Characters from our favorite TV shows or some of our friends would suddenly have some of those itchy red lesions on their skin, and you knew that playtime was over. Since many children get the vaccine these days, moms whose children do come down with a case of the pox are wondering, how is chickenpox treated?
Understanding the nature of the disease is paramount before any treatment can commence, so we’ll start on that. Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease common during the winter months until late spring. A lot of people are wondering about the origin of the disease’s name. There are various theories regarding that; one of which is because the rash appears like a chicken’s peck bites. There’s no solid evidence about that. Here’s one truth we can tell you: you don’t get Chickenpox from actual chicken.
Some people probably have that premise because many diseases start in, or are caused by, birds. Chickenpox is not one of those.
The mode of transmission is through direct or indirect contact of infected saliva or blisters to an uninfected person. The illness lasts for 10 to 21 days. A day before the rash appears until 5 days after its appearance – when the blisters turned to crusts – is the period of communicability, or the contagious period.
- Low-grade fever
- Body malaise – bodily weakness or discomfort
- Appearance of rash – It starts as a flat, red rash (macula), then progresses after 6 to 8 hours into a raised lesion (papule). After that, lesions that are filled with clear fluid (vesicles) will start to form. When the vesicles become umbilicated, crusts will then follow. When the first batches of lesions appear, the person’s temperature will rise to 104o to 105o F. Most can be found on the body, with some on the face, scalp and neck.
Can the disease be treated? Yes and no. There is no cure for the disease itself because it is a virus. This is why immunization is important. Those who were vaccinated developed immunity to the disease. A small percentage (2%), however, will still get infected by a milder form of chickenpox. Some doctors prescribe antiviral drugs to lessen the course of chickenpox, though.
Since the disease is self-limiting, the goal of treatment for chickenpox is more on therapeutic management – a care that is aimed to alleviate the patient’s discomfort due to the symptoms such as fever and itching.
- Do not give your child aspirin because Reye’s Syndrome (a fatal condition that affects the brain and the liver) has been associated with aspirin use during this type of illness. Acetaminophen is a safer choice.
- Fever causes dehydration, so make sure that your child drinks plenty of water to avoid this.
- Antihistamine is prescribed to reduce itching to a tolerable level.
- Cut the nails of your child and file the edges so as not to irritate the skin further.
- Put on gloves or socks over your child’s hands so that they won’t cause further damage when they are sleeping and unconsciously scratching.
- Apply a thin layer of anti-itch gels or calamine lotion to the rash, but not on open lesions.
- Cool oatmeal baths will help alleviate the itching as well.
Immune System Boosters:
- Since the child’s immune system will be the one to fight off the disease, you should boost it fully!
- Make sure that the child gets plenty of rest and sleep.
- Load up on natural vitamin C-rich food like berries, oranges, and kiwis. You can cook dishes with garlic and tomatoes to make their immune system work on overdrive.
Is your little one feeling sick? We have some ways to help them feel better.