Acute Illness - Chickenpox

Chickenpox is a mild and common childhood illness that most children catch at some point.

It causes a rash of:

  • Red, itchy spots that turn into fluid-filled blisters.
  • They then crust over to form scabs,
  • These eventually drop off.

Some children have only a few spots, but other children can have spots that cover their entire body. These 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.

Chickenpox is most common in children under the age of 10. In fact, chickenpox is so common in childhood that over 90% of adults are immune to the condition because they've had it before.

Children usually catch chickenpox in winter and spring, particularly between March and May.

Symptoms of chickenpox

As well as an itchy rash other symptoms include:

  • Fever- which is usually self limiting and improves after a few days
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetitie

What to do if your child has chickenpox:

Chickenpox is infectious from one to two days before the rash starts, until all the blisters have crusted over (usually five to six days after the start of the rash).

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 at risk of serious problems, such as:

  • Newborn babies,
  • Pregnant women
  • Anyone with a weakened immune system (for example, people having cancer treatment or taking steroid tablets).

Chickenpox treatment

Chickenpox in children is considered a mild illness, but your child will probably feel pretty miserable and irritable while they have it.

Your child may have

  • A fever for the first few days of the illness (which may develop before the rash is seen)
  • They may find the spots incredibly itchy.

There is no specific treatment for chickenpox, but supportive treatments can be helpful which you can get from the Pharmacy. These include

  • Paracetamol to relieve fever
  • Calamine lotion and cooling gels to ease itching.

In most children, the blisters crust up and fall off naturally within one to two weeks.

Most children with chickenpox do not need to be seen by a doctor here at Lion Health.  However we are always happy to offer telephone advice if you have any specific concerns and ask that if you require a telephone consultation you ring thorough to the surgery before 11 am and you will get a call back before 7.30 pm.  If you feel your child needs to be seen by a doctor we ask that you inform the receptionist that you think they have chickenpox and you will be asked to sit in a separate waiting area to protect any high risk patients in our waiting room.