Chicken pox treatment
Call your doctor if you think you or your child has chickenpox or if you're concerned about a possible complication of chicken pox. The doctor can guide you on how to monitor complications and in choosing medication or other treatments to relieve itching. In general, people diagnosed with chickenpox do not have to stay in bed unless fever and flu symptoms are severe. However, isolation is recommended to avoid transmission for the first 5 days before the rash begins and until all the sores have crusted over.
Soothing baths - The best treatment for skin discomfort and itching is a cool or lukewarm bath every 3 to 4 hours for the first few days. Frequent baths, especially with finely ground (colloidal) oatmeal or corn starch help relieve itching and do not spread the virus. Be sure to pat, rather than rub, the skin dry.
Lotions - Calamine lotion or other over-the-counter preparations applied to the blisters to help dry out skin lesions and soothe the skin. Avoid use of lotions on the face, especially near the eyes.
Prevent scratching. - Children can wear mittens to help prevent secondary infection. Trimming finger nails short also prevents damage caused by scratching. You can also very gently massage the itchy spots with an ice cube for 10 minutes to cool the lesions and prevent scratching.
Sore mouth - If chickenpox occur sin the mouth and/or throat drink cold fluids. Eat a soft, bland diet and avoid salty or citrus foods. If mouth sores become troublesome, you can try to gargle or swallow a teaspoon of antacid after meals.
Sore genital area - Chickenpox lesions can also occur in the genital area. If urination becomes very painful, apply some 2.5% lidocaine (Xylocaine) or pramoxine (no prescription needed) to the sores once every 4 hours to relieve pain.
Prescription medication is available to reduce the length and severity of chicken pox but are not recommended for routine cases. This is because chickenpox is caused by a virus, so the doctor won't prescribe antibiotics. Medications are also only effective if started within 24 hours of the onset of the infection. However, antibiotics may be required if sores or lesions become infected by bacteria. Medications should not interfere with the chicken pox immunity, but be sure to ask your doctor for more information.
NOTE: Never give a child or adolescent aspirin, or medications containing aspirin, as aspirin increases the risk for a dangerous condition called Reye syndrome. Do not take ibuprofen products because of a possible link with severe Strep infections.
Acetaminophen - Doctor approved doses (especially for children) can help relieve discomfort or lower fever.
Antihistamines - Diphenhydramine is useful for severe itching and may help promote sleep. Doctors advise caution when prescribing this drug to children because they are more sensitive to the effects of antihistamines and can cause excitement instead of drowsiness.
Acyclovir - This prescription antiviral drug is sometimes used to treat chickenpox but it only effective if started within 24 hours after sores appear. Acyclovir slightly reduces the number of sores or skin lesions that break out onto the skin and may shorten the illness by one day. Most normal, healthy children do not need to take this drug. Acyclovir is generally recommended for adults at high risk for complications and/or severe forms of chickenpox.
There are two types of varicella vaccines:
Chickenpox vaccine - Thanks to the live-virus varicella vaccine (Varivax), the number of cases of chicken pox has decreased in recent years. In fact, the vaccine can prevent chickenpox or reduce the severity of the illness and produces persistent immunity against chickenpox. People who cannot be vaccinated but who are exposed to chickenpox receive immune globulin antibodies against varicella virus to prevent complications of the disease if they become infected.
The chicken pox vaccine can administered at any time after 12 months of age. Experts pushed for the new second-dose policy due to a number of recent chickenpox outbreaks among previously vaccinated schoolchildren. The new schedule recommends that children receive TWO doses of the chickenpox vaccine with:
Talk to your doctor if you're unsure about your need for the vaccine. If you're planning on becoming pregnant, consult with your doctor to make sure you're up to date on your vaccinations before conceiving a child. As with other live-virus vaccines, the chickenpox vaccine is not recommended for:
Shingles vaccine - The zoster vaccine (Zostavax) is a stronger version of the chickenpox vaccine. Recent studies suggest that the vaccine can prevent about half of all shingles cases and two-thirds of postherpetic neuralgia cases. Doctors recommend that all adults 60+ with healthy immune systems receive this vaccine.
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