Chickenpox is a common infectious disease caused by a virus.
the spots appear:
After an incubation period of 14 - 21 days, there may be a slight
fever with mild headache, most patients have no symptoms at all
until the spots appear.
The spots of chickenpox can be very itchy. They appear first on
the head and trunk and next on the arms and legs. They last for
7 - 10 days.
spots look like tiny blisters on a red base. They can occur wherever
there is skin, even inside the mouth, eyelids, nose, ears, vagina,
and even the anus (back passage).
spots in awkward places can be very distressing to the child. The
blisters dry and crust over, and are infectious until the crusts
have dropped off. The spots of chickenpox can cause shallow scars,
this occurs if they have become infected or if they have been scratched
To reduce the risk of scarring see 'How should you treat chickenpox?'
Chickenpox is not usually serious. Only rarely may there be complications
such as encephalitis.
may be a risk to the unborn baby if a pregnant mother develops the
disease, or to the newborn baby if mother develops chickenpox within
5 days of delivery.
The virus that causes chickenpox is a member of the herpes virus
family. This family of viruses is also implicated in cold sores,
shingles and genital herpes.
you prevent chickenpox?
There is currently no vaccination although research in this area
looks promising. Little can be done to prevent your child getting
this disease and as it is not a serious illness, your child is better
to get this condition 'over and done with' before adulthood. Adults
do have a terrible time when they catch chickenpox!
little spots or blisters of chickenpox are full of the liquid containing
the virus so the spots are highly infectious. So, if Mum or Dad
have not had chickenpox, don't touch the spots and don't use your
child's towel, etc.!
should you treat chickenpox?
child cool - cool room, cool drinks, cool bed. (See fever management
may ease pain of spots in sensitive areas
lotion applied to skin can relieve itchiness
nappies off to allow spots to dry
your child's fingernails short
at home/off school until crusts have come off spots
GP to confirm diagnosis
Child is very distressed
show presence of pus
has neckache or severe headache