Chickenpox is a common illness among children, particularly those under age 12. So it's something parents are always looking out for.
Is Chickenpox common?
Chickenpox is most common in children under 10 years old and in fact, chickenpox is so common in childhood that 90% of adults are immune to the condition because they've had it before. It’s particularly common between March and May.
It’s a highly contagious virus and can spread quickly through places like schools and childcare facilities. It’s infectious before you show any symptoms, so you could be infecting people without even knowing! Chickenpox is spread in the same ways as colds and flu. It's contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when an infected person sneezes or coughs. You can then become infected with the virus by breathing in these droplets from the air.
"Siblings and children in childcare facilities or schools are particularly susceptible. The attack rate of chickenpox among susceptible siblings in households is 87%!"
For most children who get chickenpox, it's a short-term but uncomfortable illness. Besides making your child miserable and itchy, chickenpox can impact parents and care-givers who may have to take time off work or cover the cost of extra child-care while their child is off sick from school.
Complications from Chickenpox
Usually, chickenpox runs its course and complications are rare. However, they can include superinfection, skins scarring, encephalitis, pneumonia, glomerulonephritis, myocarditis, Reye's syndrome, hepatisis and coagulopathy. Although the most frequent complication is infection when those itchy spots become infected with bacteria.
People who are most at risk of developing complications are adults who get chickenpox; pregnant women; babies under four weeks old and people who have a weakened immune system.
The chickenpox virus never leaves the body. It lies dormant and years later, can reactivate in adulthood and result in a painful rash called Shingles.
How can you treat it and beat it?
There is no cure for chickenpox. The virus usually clears up by itself without any treatment. However, there are ways of easing the itch and discomfort.
- Don’t scratch! If you don’t scratch, the spots will heal faster and it will help to protect against infection
- Calamine lotion on the spots may ease itching
- Keep nails short: Having nails trimmed will keep them clean and help to avoid infecting the lesions by scratching. If that doesn't work, try gloves or mitts!
- Keep fresh: Make sure the air is clean and cool, as heat and sweat exacerbate the itching.
- Shower: Daily bathing will help keep the skin fresh and clean.
- Talk to your healthcare professional about treating chickenpox
- Stay at home: In order to avoid infections, it’s best if you remain at home until all lesions dry up and become scabs. You also don’t want to infect others