Does your baby have chickenpox? We explain what you need to know about this illness and how to treat it.
Everything You Need To Know About Chickenpox
1. Symptoms: When it starts, it is very difficult to differentiate chickenpox from a simple cold. Baby might be grumpy, have a little fever or a runny nose - nothing very specific. However, after a few days small red spots will appear. After 2-3 days, these spots turn into small blisters and then dry crusts. The number of spots varies from one child to another, so do not worry if your baby is covered! These spots are very itchy and you will have a hard time keeping your child from scratching. This is the only way to avoid scars later. You will have to be very patient. The symptoms of chickenpox can last up to three weeks and your child may have several flare-ups of spots.
2. Contagiousness: Chickenpox is extremely contagious but most often benign. If one of your child's classmates gets chickenpox, be prepared! In the same way, you can be pretty sure that all the siblings will be infected if one of them is.
Chickenpox is contagious at all stages, from the incubation of the virus to the end of the illness. The incubation lasts about fifteen days, so don't assume you've got away with it if your child does not show warning signs right after having been in contact with someone with chickenpox.
The good news is that anyone who has had chickenpox once in their life is totally immune! Be patient and chickenpox will soon be a bad memory. Be careful of pregnant women around you: even if they are immune, the virus can cause fetal malformations.
3. Chickenpox treatment: There is no treatment for chickenpox itself. There is a vaccine against chickenpox but it is not generally offered to children. This is because doctors worry that it would lead to higher rates of chickenpox in adults - which can be much more severe than it is in children.
If the disease is declared, the pediatrician will prescribe an antihistamine treatment to relieve the baby's itching and a disinfectant to apply to the blisters to prevent infection. Remember to dress your child in cotton clothes which are less irritating to the skin. Opt for showers over baths and make sure that your child has very short nails to prevent them from scratching.