Chickenpox: Brief Version
What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a disease caused by a virus. Most likely, your child was around a child with chickenpox about 2 or 3 weeks before. Here’s what you can expect:
- At first, you’ll see small, red bumps. These bumps may become thin-walled water blisters.
- After that, you may see cloudy blisters or open sores.
- In about a day, you may see them turn into dry, brown crusts.
- More and more red bumps will crop up all over your child’s body for about 4 or 5 days.
The disease can spread to other people until all the sores have crusted over. Most of the time, all the sores crust over about 5 to 7 days after the rash starts. It may take 2 weeks for all of the scabs to fall off.
How can I take care of my child?
- Itching. Give your child a cool bath every 3 to 4Â hours. Add 4Â tablespoons of baking soda, oatmeal, or cornstarch to the tub of water. If the itching is very bad, or keeps your child from sleeping, give your child a pill called Benadryl. You can get this antihistamine at your drug store. You don’t need a doctor’s order.
- Fever. If your child has a fever over 102Â° (39Â°C), give acetaminophen (Tylenol). Do not give aspirin or ibuprofen.
- Sore mouth. Give soft foods and cold fluids. For babies, use a cup instead of a bottle. The nipple may hurt. Stay away from salty foods and citrus fruits. You can also have your child gargle or swallow 1Â teaspoon of an antacid after meals.
- Preventing infected sores. Trim your child’s fingernails short. Also, wash your child’s hands with an antibacterial soap often during the day.
Call your child’s doctor right away if:
- Your child has red skin, red streaks, or red rash.
- Your child starts acting very sick.
Call your child’s doctor within 24 hours if:
- A scab looks infected (gets larger or drains pus).
- The fever lasts over 4 days.
- The itching is very bad and doesn’t get better when treated.
- You have other questions or concerns. If you take your child to a doctor’s office, call ahead to let the staff know that you think your child has chickenpox.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of â€œMy Child Is Sick,â€ American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-06-10
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright Â©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.