“Mom, I have a red rash on my tummy,” my son, barely 9 years old, whispered to me one summer morning. “It’s itchy!”
I looked at his red spot. “Uh-oh, it looks like a start of chicken pox,” I calmly replied, but my mind is swirling- thinking of what to do next. “Chicken what!?” he exclaimed, confused.
No, I didn’t have him vaccinated for this one. I have to remind myself that it’s a common childhood viral infection and 90% of children catch it. He must have gotten it in one of the playgrounds. The chicken pox virus spread easily because it is airborne or he came in direct contact with a person who had it. And it thrives in warm weather!
The next thing I did was to plan on how to make my son comfortable in the next 5-10 days – the usual course of chicken pox. It’s unfortunate to have a boy whose feverish, itchy, and with flu- like body ache at home on summer days. It’s good to be reminded that it’s viral so these symptoms will just gradually ease as the body will heal without much intervention among healthy children.
“It’s better to have it now than when you get it when you’re an adult,” I said, hoping to comfort him. Which is true, adolescents and adults had it worse than when kids get them at a younger age.
Now, what to do? I’ll be sharing some tips for a quick treatment when it’s your child’s turn to have chicken pox.
For the Itch
First off, get him into a loose clothing – choose a breathable fabric like cotton.
Keep him in a cool place to avoid heat and sweat. Perspiration can really make the itch worse. If it does become super itchy, use a cool, wet washcloth to dab (not rub!) on the itchy areas to help calm the skin.
You can use Calamine lotion to help reduce itching. The zinc oxide in Calamine soothes the skin. Using a cotton swab, dab it on itchy skin areas.
Do you have oats in your pantry? If yes, you can prepare a homemade oatmeal bath! For centuries, oatmeal has been used as a home remedy for itchy skin because of its soothing properties. Here’s what you can do:
- Use the whole oats, and not the instant or flavored one. Colloidal oats, a special kind of oat is best to use because it has high levels of starch that can act as a moisturizer in addition to its antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties. If you don’t have this, then you can finely grind traditional oats.
- Get an old sock. Stuff if full (about 1 cup) then tie a knot on top.
- Fill your bath tub with warm water. Soak the sock and squeeze it often. Do this until the water becomes will get milky and cloudy.
- Allow your child to again soak for 15-20 minutes in the tub. Give the sock to your child. Allow your child to soak it and wring it out over his/her body.
- If you don’t have a bath tub for the child to soak in, simply use the sock as a sponge to scoop the milky water and dribble it all the body.
Instruct your child to not scratch his blisters because it can lead to bacterial skin infection. He can pat or dab them gently instead.
Some mothers let their kids wear mittens or soft socks keep them from scratching. Keep his fingernails trimmed. Frequent hand washing can reduce the risk of secondary infection. Remind your child to avoid touching any open or crusted lesions.
If it can’t be helped and the dreaded skin infection happened (becomes warm or tender, very red, or begins leaking pus), don’t hesitate to visit your doctor who can prescribe an antibacterial cream.
A doctor can also prescribe anti itching medications like antihistamines for the itch.
In most cases, treatment options are not considered necessary but some doctors may prescribe an oral antiviral drug called Zovirax (acyclovir) to reduce complications.
For the Fever and Body Aches
To relieve fever and headache and other body aches associated with chickenpox, you can give plain paracetamol. Stay away from giving children aspirin as this pose a risk for developing Reye’s Syndrome. A whole body sponge bath can also help bring the temperature down.
Always check his temperature when he is running a fever. If it became long lasting and does not respond to paracetamol and if it rises above 38.9 degree Celcius (102 degrees Farenheit), it’s best to call a doctor.
For the Blisters in Mouth
In some cases, a child may suffer from blisters inside the mouth. The blisters look more like sores that can transform into shallow yellowish ulcers. It can be extremely painful when they erupt, making eating difficult for the child.
Here’s what you can do:
- Give your child a bland and soft diet. Avoid hard, salty, oily and spicy foods. Avoid hot beverages and sugary drinks as well. Also, don’t give him acidic foods like tomatoes or citrus fruits. All these can increase the discomfort in your child’s mouth.
- Give your child sugar free cold drinks, popsicle, milk shakes and fruit smoothies.
- Keep your child well hydrated.
- Make sure the child has a good oral hygiene. Keep his mouth and tongue clean with mild toothpaste. To help wash away bacteria, gargle with lukewarm water.
For the boredom, too?
Keep your child away from social gatherings and public places where there are young children, pregnant women and elderly. Keep him isolated.
If your child is like mine who is easily bored, have a plethora of activities that he can do even in isolation. Since your child cannot go outside until the last blister has dried, keep him busy with a project, a book, or a hobby. A movie marathon sounds fun.
Anything else you want to add? Share away!