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August 22, 2018 | Family Medicine
Chickenpox cases have declined with the development of a vaccine, but there are still cases of the virus every year. The symptoms of chickenpox include a rash and fever. The rash typically begins on the face, chest and back before spreading to the rest of the body. Your child may also have loss of appetite, tiredness and a headache. The red spots will blister, then scab over.
Chickenpox is a highly contagious virus, but most cases are mild. Spots can develop on any part of the body, including the mouth, eyes, nose and genitals. Children who have weakened immune systems from cancer, HIV or other conditions are at risk for complications. Adults who get chickenpox for the first time as an adult are also at risk for complications.
The chickenpox virus is the same virus that causes shingles, which is a delayed complication of chickenpox. About 20 percent of the population gets shingles, but it’s most common in people over 50. The chickenpox virus never goes away. If it becomes active later, it causes painful blisters. Fortunately, there is also a shingles vaccine for adults over 50.
Most doctors recommend treating chickenpox at home, as the virus is contagious. Keep your child away from other people until he or she is no longer contagious. The American Academy of Dermatologists recommends:
Home remedies are typically recommended. If your child develops the following symptoms, however, you should contact your doctor:
It takes about a week for the blisters to scab. Once the spots are scabbed over, the person is no longer contagious. However, it can take up to two weeks for the scabs to completely go away. It’s important to keep the child from scratching at the chickenpox to limit scarring and infection.
Most of the time, children with chickenpox do not have complications. The most common complication is infection. A local antibiotic ointment will most likely clear this up. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have or if your child has a weak immune system.
“How to Care for Children With Chickenpox.” American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/chickenpox
“Chickenpox in Children.” Dr. Mary Harding, Patient.info https://patient.info/health/viral-rashes/chickenpox-in-children
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.