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Reye's syndrome

Reye's syndrome is a life-threatening condition that damages the cells in your child's organs, especially the liver and brain. Giving your child aspirin increases the risk of Reye's syndrome.

Learn more about Reye's syndrome in our health library.


The chickenpox vaccine is recommended for your child after 12 to 15 months old and again between 4 and 6 years old.

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 blistering rash.

Your child can easily spread chickenpox up to 48 hours before getting the rash until all the blisters 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 sores 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 lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda. This may help relieve the itch.
  • Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®) for pain or discomfort. Follow the package directions for your child's 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 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 you think your child has chickenpox. The diagnosis needs to be confirmed by your health care provider.


Most children receive no specific medicine for chickenpox.

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.

Call if your child has:

  • a chickenpox pimple that is becoming big or has a tender red area around it

  • problems breathing
  • bad cough
  • fever that lasts more than three days
  • confusion
  • repeated vomiting


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition

To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or she" and "him" or "her."

First published: 02/01/2010
Last updated: 01/01/2014

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic