Chickenpox is caused by a virus. The virus takes about 10 to 21 days to develop from the time of exposure.
The main symptom of chickenpox is a rash. It starts with little pink bumps, which then get bigger and develop a small clean blister on top. Then, the blister (about the
size of a tiny drop of water) dries out and scabs over. The blisters can form anywhere between the head and toes.
After a couple of days, you will see the rash in all three stages:
- without blisters
- with blisters
- with little scabs.
If the bumps all look the same, or if they are clustered in one area of the body, it is almost certainly not chickenpox.
The pox can become infected with a bacteria. Your child can easily spread chickenpox up to 48 hours before getting the rash until all the pimples have scabs (five to seven days).
How to make your child more comfortable
- Clip your child's fingernails. This will keep your child from scratching the itchy rash. The pox can become infected or leave scars.
- Put anti-itch cream (such as Calamine® lotion) or powder (such as Aveeno®) on the rash. Do not use Caladryl® or topical Benadryl®.
- Give your child Benadryl liquid by mouth to help relieve the itch. Follow the package directions.
- Let your child soak in a tepid bath with oatmeal or baking soda. This may help relieve the itch.
- Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®) for fever. Follow the package directions for your child's height, weight or age.
Do not give your child aspirin. This can cause a serious condition called Reye's syndrome. It can lead to coma or death.
Antibiotics will not help treat the chickenpox. The virus will have to run its course.
When to call your health care provider
Call your health care provider for an appointment if your child has:
There is no medicine to treat the chickenpox. Most children receive no specific therapy.
Treatment with an antiviral medicine may be needed if your child with the chickenpox is older, has a severe case, has a weakened immune system, or is the second sibling in the same household with the chickenpox.
- ear pain
- a bad cough
- a bad sore throat
- a high fever that won't go down after giving acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)
…a fever that lasts more than four days
- a chickenpox pimple that is becoming big (the size of a nickel) or has a tender red area around it
- signs of Reye's syndrome:
- repeated vomiting.
When you call the clinic, please mention that your child has chickenpox.
The chickenpox vaccine is recommended for your child after 12 months of age. Talk with your child's health care provider if you have questions or concerns.