Chickenpox is usually mild and can be treated at home. Most people feel better within a week or so.
Use paracetamol if you or your child have a high temperature (fever) and feel uncomfortable.
Paracetamol is safe for most people to take – including pregnant women and children over two months of age. Special liquid versions are available for young children and babies.
Always read the packet or leaflet that comes with the medicine to check if it’s suitable and how much to take. Speak to a pharmacist or your GP if you’re unsure.
Don’t use anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, as they can sometimes make people with chickenpox very ill. Never give aspirin to a child under 16 as it can be dangerous for them.
How to prevent itching and scratching
Chickenpox can be very itchy, but it’s important not to scratch the spots as it can increase the chances of the skin becoming infected with bacteria and could result in scarring.
It can help to:
- keep nails short and clean
- tap or pat the skin instead of scratching it
- wear cotton gloves at night (or socks over hands)
- bathe in cool or lukewarm water – dab or pat the skin dry afterwards, rather than rubbing it
- wear loose, smooth cotton clothing
You can also buy calamine lotion, moisturising creams cooling gels or an antihistamine medicine called chlorpheniramine to help reduce itching and soothe the skin.
Calamine lotion is a very popular choice among adults and children alike for topical application to areas of skin irritation such as itching and rash. It is conveniently available over-the-counter, meaning that it you can buy it from the pharmacy without a prescription from the doctor. In fact, many would even recommend that you have it in your house’s medicine cabinet at all times.
Antihistamines are a type of medicine often used to treat a number of allergic health conditions.
Antihistamines work by altering the way cells are affected by a substance called histamine. Histamine is a chemical the immune system uses to help protect the body’s cells against infection.
Usually histamine is a useful substance, but if you’re having an allergic reaction it’s sometimes necessary to block its effects. Allergic reactions occur when your immune system mistakes a harmless substance, such as pollen, for a threat.
Virasoothe chickenpox relief cooling gel is a medical device that contains various ingredients that together are referred to as the Osmo4 formulation. The gel can be used to relieve itching associated with chickenpox.
The ingredients in the Osmo4 formulation work by drawing water to the surface of the skin from the dermis (lower layer of the skin). As this water evaporates, it has a cooling effect on the skin. This helps to relieve itching and thus prevent scratching.
Virasoothe gel also moisturises the skin. This has a soothing effect and helps with the healing process.
By helping to relieve itching and moisturising the skin, Virasoothe may help reduce the risk of scarring from the chickenpox spots.
Foods to Eat and Avoid
Good foods to eat when we have chicken pox include:
- Yogurt (natural probiotic yogurt supports the immune system)
- Fish (not shellfish); oily fish contain beneficial anti-inflammatory Omega 3s
- Meat including beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, game;
- Organic cheese and milk
- Specific fruits: stone fruit (mango, apricots, cherries, avocados, papaya), apples, pears, figs and pineapples
Most vegetables, some other fruits and pulses hover around the ‘neutral’ mark meaning they should neither encourage nor discourage the virus.
Foods to avoid when we have chicken pox include:
- Nuts and seeds; these have the worst lysine arginine ratio
- Grains (including wheat, oats, rice)
- Fruits: grapes, blackberries, blueberries, grapefruit and oranges (including juice)
- Caffeine (not an issue for my 4 year old)
- Chocolate (an issue for my 4 year old)
- Onions and garlic – but in view of their strong antiviral and antihistamine properties from eating a low amount of them, I have opted to keep these in my chicken pox diet