Your little one may have been feeling feverish and unwell for a day or so, and you’ve noticed red spots that are filling with fluid and becoming itchy blisters on their body. You may also be aware of chickenpox ‘going round’ school or nursery. If so, they’ve probably caught it. Once you’re certain it is chickenpox (and contact your GP surgery if you’re not sure), what can you do to make your itchy little one more comfortable?
Keep them at home
You’ll need to keep your child home from school or nursery until no new spots appear, and for at least five days after the first spots appeared. After five days, the risk of spreading the virus is minimal. There’s no need to keep them home until all the spots have healed.
Give paracetamol for pain or fever
Liquid paracetamol can help relieve fever, discomfort and pain. Do not give them ibuprofen (it can increase the risk of severe infections in someone with chickenpox), or aspirin.
Consider an antihistamine
If your child is over 12 months old, have a chat with your pharmacist about giving them an antihistamine syrup such as Piriton to relieve the itchy rash of chickenpox, which would help give them a restful night's sleep.
Give plenty of fluids
It’s important for your child to drink plenty of liquids to stay well hydrated while they recover from chickenpox. If they’re struggling to drink, especially if they have painful spots inside their mouth, sugar-free ice lollies are a soothing way to keep up their fluid intake. Warm (not hot) soups make hydrating, light meals.
Keep them cool
Heat and sweat makes a child with chickenpox itch more; turn down the heating so rooms are cooler than usual. Older children with chickenpox might like to take cool baths or showers to calm the itching: remind them to pat themselves dry gently with a towel rather than rubbing (however tempting this might be). Younger children probably won’t appreciate baths or showers, so instead place cool, damp flannels or towels on itchy skin to take the heat away.
Dress them in soft cotton
Skin is very sensitive when it’s covered in chickenpox spots. Keep your child in comfortable, loose-fitting cotton clothes or pyjamas, and use cotton bed linen. As well as being soft, cotton helps keep your child cooler.
Use a cooling gel
Calamine lotion has a cooling effect, this can relieve the itchy rash of chickenpox. Your pharmacist will be able to give you advice on this and other cooling products suitable for chickenpox itch.
Clip nails short
Children find it difficult not to scratch chickenpox spots, and even if they manage not to do it during the day, they may scratch in their sleep. To prevent infection and scarring, gently clip their nails as short as you can. Some children may not mind having cotton socks on their hands at night to stop the scratching.
Offer rewards for not scratching
You’ve tried explaining to your child about the possibility of infection and scarring if they scratch their spots, but some children just can’t help it - especially when you’re not looking. You may need to use that parental last resort – bribery – to get your child to leave their spots alone. Sticker charts with a reward at the end of the week, a little treat for every scratch-free day, promises of extra pocket money or a trip out when they’re better work wonders for their self-control.
Keep them distracted
Children with chickenpox can feel miserable, and quite distressed about the spots. Try distraction techniques to cheer them up: read them books, play games, draw or do puzzles that need concentration, and watch new or favourite films together.
For the relief of the itchy rash of chickenpox, choose Piriton syrup for children aged 12 months+.
Piriton syrup can also be used to relieve a broad range of allergies for everyone in your family over 12 months old including hay fever, skin allergies, pet allergies, house dust mite allergies, insect bites, mould spore allergies, and drug reactions that are responsive to antihistamines.
Piri is the UK’s no.1 selling brand for allergy care. Source © (2018) Nielson data. Contact email@example.com for claim verification.
For the relief of allergy symptoms. Piriton syrup contains chlorphenamine maleate. Always read the label.