Chickenpox is a common childhood disease that is highly contagious. It usually affects young children (usually under 10 years old), but it can affect people of all ages. For those who have been infected with chickenpox, you will not get it again, but the virus may remain dormant (inactive) in your body, only to be reactivated later in life if your immune system is weakened. Fortunately, it does not cause serious problems in otherwise healthy people. And certain medicines can help to relieve the condition. Read on to find medicine details and more treatment options.
Symptoms of Chickenpox
There are some common symptoms of chickenpox that most people will experience. High fever, body aches and headache, which often start one or two days before the rash appears. In addition, you may also spots or rashes coalesce and appear in crops. These eventually develop into small, very itchy blisters everywhere in the body. After several days, the blisters turn into scabs. It may take 2-3 weeks before these scabs disappear. Loss of appetite may also occur when you get chickenpox.
When to Seek Medical Help
Most children experience mild illness and feel better within a few days. Yet, under certain conditions, a medical visit is the perfect choice. Make a medical visit with the following conditions:
- When you suspect your children develops chickenpox, make a medical visit to get confirmed diagnosis and effective medicines for chicken pox.
- When your child develops fever, vomits, or has convulsions during the recovering process.
- When chickenpox is associated with bacteria-induced skin infection symptoms, including severe itching, pain, red skin and pus in the blisters.
- Seek help immediately if complications such as encephalitis or meningitis occur. Signs and symptoms include stiff neck, excessive sleepiness and lethargy.
- Consultation must be sought when an adult family member develops chickenpox.
- See your doctor immediately if you are pregnant and have never had the disease or exposed to the virus either.
Medicine for Chickenpox
Chickenpox is a very contagious disease, so patients are advised to stay at home before recovering. The good news is that certain medicines are available for relieving fever and itching. Here are some of the treatment options available:
Among various painkillers, paracetamol is advised to take to relieve high fever. Yet, aspirin and strongernon-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs) like ibuprofen are not recommended for young children.
Pregnant women may take paracetamol anytime during pregnancy, but they may take ibuprofen only during the second trimester—week 14 to 27.
2. Antiviral Medicine
Antiviral medicine for chickenpox consists of aciclovir, which may be given to shorten the duration and reduce the severity of their symptoms, especially for certain patients like newborn babies, pregnant women, adults who get chickenpox within 24 hours of appearance of rash, and patients with weak immune system function. Aciclovir should be taken within 24 hours of the appearance of rashes. It is normally taken in tablet form, five times daily for seven days.
3. Immunoglobulin Treatment
Immunoglobulin treatment consists of antibodies donated by healthy individuals. Antibodies for the chickenpox virus are given by injection to protect people who have an increased risk of developing a severe infection, including newborn babies,pregnant women, and those who have a weakened immune system.
4. Calamine Lotion for Itchiness
This skin lotion contains zinc oxide which relieves itching and skin irritation. It is considered safe for all ages. The lotion may be applied to affected skin with a cotton ball and may be re-applied as often as needed. However, for pregnant and breastfeeding women, you should seek your doctor's advice before using.
5. Antihistamine for Itching
An antihistamine may be prescribed to relieve skin itchiness. Antihistamines that are available over-the-counter include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), cetirizine (Zyrtec), andloratadine (Claritin).
Note: Avoid using diphenhydramine (Benadryl) topically. Using diphenhydramine (Benadryl) topically, result in erratic absorption of the drug via the open blisters. You may experience side effect like drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting.
6. Chickenpox Vaccine
Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine protects you from catching the virus. The vaccine is made from weakened form of the varicella virus. It is recommended for young children who have not had the infection and adults who have not been vaccinated and infected with the virus neither. However, it is not advisable for pregnant women, people with weak immune systems, those who are allergic to neomycin, receiving high doses of steroids, or had blood transfusion within 5 months.
Home Remedies for Chickenpox
Various remedies can be applied to deal with chickenpox. Below are some different kinds of options for your reference.
1. Home Care Options to Follow
In addition to using medicine for chickenpox, you can also try some home care options by yourself to relieve the discomfort.
- Don't scratch the skin to avoid infection. Parents can cover your child's hands with mittens/sock or trim her fingernails to avoid infection and scarring.
- To relieve itching, mix some baking soda or oatmeal to your bath water. Use cool, wet towels and allow air dry. Avoid sponging down your child with cool water. This can make him feel cold and make him shiver.
- For babies, you'd better take off your baby's diaper to allow the blisters to dry out then scab.
- To relieve mouth sores, gargle with warm salt water or rinse with a mixture of warm water and small amount of hydrogen peroxide. Chloraseptic lozenges or mouth sprays with mild anesthetic may be used on older children.
- Dress your kids with cool, loose fitting clothes made from cotton for more skin comfort.
2. Dietary Remedies
Diet can help boost your immune system function and healing process from infection in addition to using medicine for chickenpox. Here are some dietary tips for chickenpox:
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits that contain phyto-nutrients to boost your immune system.
- Keep hydration. Drink juices that contain lots of vitamins A and C such as carrot juice and lemon juice. Alternatively, take lots of vegetable broth and chicken soup.
- Make fruit and vegetable smoothies using cherries, beet, broccoli, blackberries, kale, cabbage, and elderberries.
- Avoid processed foods and sugary drinks. Limit your intake of dairy products except for yogurt. Cut down the intake of breads, meats, spicy foods, and other foods that stress your digestive system.