First aid for babies and children: chickenpox
7 July 2022
Chickenpox, most children get them once before their sixth birthday. It starts with a fever, followed by red bumps and blisters all over the body that can be incredibly itchy. Fortunately, chickenpox are harmless, but they are very annoying. In this article, we will tell you how to recognise chickenpox and what you can do against the itch.
What are chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This virus spreads through droplets in the air, for example through sneezing, coughing and talking. Touching the blisters on the skin can also lead to infection. Once infected, it can take a maximum of up to 3 weeks before spots will appear. Chickenpox is contagious to others from 2 days before spots appear until they have all crusted over. This period takes about 10 days.
Does my child have chickenpox?
You can recognise whether your child has chickenpox by the following symptoms.
- Your child will first catch a cold.
- Your child may have a fever, be lethargic or sick. This can occur before the first chickenpox appear.
- Your child will develop spots and blisters all over their body, often in the mouth as well, in the hair and on the eyelids.
- Your child has itchy spots and blisters.
- Not sure if your child has chickenpox? Then take this test.
Tips for chickenpox
Children are often miserable from the itchy bumps on their skin. These tips will ensure that your child suffers as little as possible.
- Your child can take a bath or shower as normal. Then gently pat your child dry with a soft towel.
- Does your child have chickenpox in his or her mouth? Then a popsicle or cold drink can ease the pain.
- Unfortunately, there is no medicine against chickenpox. You can, however, apply a cooling lotion (lotio alba), cooling menthol gel or carbomer water gel to the bumps. This reduces the itch and dries up the blisters faster. Please note: menthol gel should not be used on children younger than 2 years.
- Would you rather not put ointments on your child's sensitive skin? An oatmeal bath reduces itch and dries up the blisters. Put some oatmeal in a tightly tied hydrophilic cloth and place this in the warm water. Then let your child have a nice bath. You can also gently dab on the spots with the cloth.
- Keep your child's nails short and clean and try to make sure that your child scratches as little as possible. Scratching can make the itch worse and can cause infections and create small scars.
When to call your doctor?
Chickenpox is annoying, but fortunately not dangerous. Still, it can be wise to contact your doctor in the following scenarios.
- Your child is younger than 3 months old. Young babies can become seriously ill.
- There are large red or purple spots around the blisters or scabs.
- Your child is getting sicker, you notice this because your child, for example:
- drinks too little or nothing at all
- keeps vomiting;
- gets drowsy;
- keeps crying or starts to moan;
- has shortness of breathe or breathes very quickly;
- gets a grey tint to their skin;
- gets a fever again after only a few fever-free days.