- Common Ailments Service
Chickenpox is a mild and common illness that most children catch at some point. Read on for more information regarding the condition and the treatment options available to you...
What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox (varicella) is caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus. Chickenpox is most common in children under the age of 10. It’s spread quickly and easily from someone who is infected. It causes a rash of red, itchy spots that turn into fluid-filled blisters. The blisters then crust over to form scabs and eventually drop off. Some children will only have a few spots, but others can have spots cover their entire body. The spots are most likely to appear on the face, ears and scalp, under the arms, on the chest and belly, and on the arms and legs. Your child may have a fever for the first few days of the illness. The spots can also be incredibly itchy.
How can I avoid spreading chickenpox?
Chickenpox is infectious from 1 to 2 days before the rash starts, until all the blisters have crusted over (usually 5 to 6 days after the start of the rash). To prevent spreading the infection, keep your child home from nursery or school until all their spots have crusted over.
If your child has chickenpox, try to keep them away from public areas to avoid contact with people who may not have had it, especially people who are immune compromised or at risk of serious side effects of the virus.
Should I seek medical advice?
In most children, chickenpox is a mild illness that gets better on its own within a couple of weeks. However some children can become more seriously ill and need to see a doctor. Contact your GP straight away if your child develops any abnormal symptoms, such as:
- if the blisters on their skin become infected
- if your child has a pain in their chest or has difficulty breathing
Chickenpox in adults
Chickenpox may be a childhood illness, but adults can catch it too. Chickenpox tends to be more severe in adults than children, and adults have a higher risk of developing complications. Adults with chickenpox should stay off work until all the spots have crusted over. They should seek medical advice if they develop any abnormal symptoms, such as infected blisters. Adults with chickenpox may benefit from taking antiviral medicine if treatment is started early in the course of the illness.
There is no specific treatment for chickenpox, but we do offer a wide range of remedies that can alleviate symptoms, including paracetamol to relieve fever, and calamine lotion and cooling gels to ease itching. If you’re worried about symptoms, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by booking a free telephone consultation with one of our experienced pharmacists for advice and support.