It is that time of year again and chicken pox is running rife! My five year old niece has just gone down with it, just in time for the school Easter holidays. My boys picked it up in April 2013 and I am pretty sure they got it from the swimming pool at the Havens Holiday Park we had been at a fortnight before. Leo was four and Riley was one. I thought I would share my top tips on how I managed to keep them comfortable and scar free for those of you who haven’t been through it yet.
Chicken pox, unless the child is a lot older, doesn’t generally cause them to be too ill. Mine were a bit grotty for a couple of days and nights so having some children’s paracetamol on hand is good. Ibuprofen should NOT be given to a child with chicken pox, it can be extremely dangerous so please take care with what pain relief you choose and make sure it is paracetamol based.
I also gave the boys antihistamines (eg. Piriton) to help with the itchiness. This can make them a little drowsy so is especially beneficial at night time.
You do not need to take your child to a doctor with chicken pox unless they look like they are becoming infected, or like me, when I took Leo as he had them in his mouth and throat and was struggling to eat. Be sure to make the reception staff aware you think your child has chicken pox so they can give you an alternative place to wait, other than the main waiting room. The phone in 111 service or your local pharmacy can also be very helpful in answering questions rather than taking your child into the doctor’s surgery.
Twice a day I would give the boys a lukewarm bath with a heap of bicarbonate of soda in. The bicarb in the bath will help dry out the spots quicker and the lukewarm bathwater (as opposed to too warm/cold) will help ease their skin. After each bath I would gently pat them dry using clean towels.
There are so many new things out on the market these days, most of which cost a small fortune. My pharmacist told me to stick to good old calamine as it would be a waste of money to use anything else and that is what I did. After each bath, I would dab calamine over all the spots (we would try and make it fun by counting the spots) with a cotton wall ball. Leo thought it was funny seeing all the white blobs all over him!
As Riley was a year old he still had lots of plain cotton sleep suits to wear. The onesie had also made its fashionable entrance by then so Leo had some to wear too. I chose the thin, cotton ones so they wouldn’t get too warm but it meant they couldn’t scratch as easily. Pyjama days always make you feel better too!
It isn’t easy but this is particularly important to me. I kept the kids inside for two weeks, until they were considered well enough to go back to nursery. Chicken pox is highly contagious and almost seen as a right of passage for young children in the UK. However, there are many adults and children who have compromised immune systems and catching chicken pox can make them extremely ill or even worse. Please take these people into account when you are getting cabin fever and think one little trip out won’t hurt…it really could. Chicken pox is contagious for up to two weeks before the spots come out (which nobody can help knowing about) and then until every spot has dried out. This can take up to two weeks, so prepare for the long haul – plenty of movies, craft activities and Lego building will keep your little ones entertained.
I hope you found these tips helpful and will remember them for when you may need them. Everyone remembers when they had chicken pox, how old were you? Let me know in the comments below!