Topic: Diseases & Conditions
This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about the treatment of chickenpox. Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse to go over any information you do not understand.
WHAT IS CHICKENPOX?
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Chickenpox usually causes an itchy rash and fever. The blister like rash dries and forms scabs in five to six days. The virus spreads from person to person by direct contact or through the air. Chickenpox is contagious one to two days before the rash appears and until all blisters have formed scabs. It takes 10-21 days after contact with an infected person for someone to get chickenpox. An infected person may have anywhere from only a few blisters to more than 500, but average 300-400.
HOW DO YOU TREAT CHICKENPOX?
Scratching the blisters may cause them to become infected. Therefore, keep fingernails trimmed short. Mittens may help with smaller children. Calamine lotion, Aveeno® (oatmeal), or baking soda baths may help relieve the itching. Use non-aspirin medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) for fever. You may want to check with your pediatrician as soon as you believe your child has chickenpox. Your pediatrician may want to prescribe a medicine called acyclovir, which may reduce the severity of the illness. This is particularly important if your child has an immune deficiency, a chronic skin disease, or a chronic lung disease. Note that to work best acyclovir should be started within the first 24 hours of the rash.
WHEN CAN MY CHILD RETURN TO SCHOOL?
Chickenpox is highly contagious and your child should remain at home until all the blisters are dry and crusted over. This usually takes about four days. If your child starts vomiting, develops a fever lasting more than four days or fever over 102°F, call your health care provider. Also take note of areas of the rash or any part of the body that becomes red, warm, tender or leaks pus (thick, discolored fluid) as this may mean there is an infection. Seek medical care IMMEDIATELY if the child with chickenpox seems extremely ill, is hard to wake up, is confused, has difficulty walking, has a stiff neck, is vomiting repeatedly, has trouble breathing or has a serious cough.
CAN CHICKENPOX BE PREVENTED?
Yes. A chickenpox (varicella) vaccine should be given to infants at 12-15 months of age. Similarly older children and adolescents who have not had chickenpox should also be vaccinated to prevent the infection.
Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar www.childrensdayton.org (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).
La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Corregido: 1998, 2000, 2001
The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.
Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.
Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Revised: 1998, 2000, 2001
Sign up for Pediatric Link
Finding the latest trusted child health and safety information doesn't have to be hard. Pediatric Link, Dayton Children's e-newsletter offers timely and up-to-date information for health care professionals from the experts you trust at Dayton Children's. Sign up