Chicken pox is a disease in which itchy rashes or blisters appear all over the body. A person with chicken pox can develop as many as 500 such blisters, not only on the skin but inside the mouth, eyelids, ears and genitals as well. Chicken pox is sometimes fatal, especially in babies and older people who have a weak immune system.
Chicken pox in pre-schoolers: Causes and symptoms
Chicken pox is caused by the varicella zoster virus. It is highly contagious and can spread aerially or by surface contact. Scratching the itchy lesions may also send the virus into the air and cause infection.
A toddler with chicken pox can have symptoms such as fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, and headache besides rashes. The itching is usually mild in children, but can get very uncomfortable.
Is chicken pox contagious?
It is most contagious in the initial few days after the rash appears and continues to be contagious until all the blisters form scabs. Your toddler may experience the first rash two weeks after exposure to a person with chicken pox.
When is chicken pox prevalent?
Chicken pox usually occurs when the weather or temperature becomes pleasant, that is at the end of winter or start of spring.
Tips to prevent chicken pox infection
The most preferred way to prevent chicken pox is to get a vaccine shot. Everyone including children, adolescents and adults must get two doses of the vaccine. It is very safe and effective at preventing the disease.
Treatment for chicken pox
Your child can contract the disease even if he is vaccinated, but in such instances, the infection is usually milder. After the infection is contracted, chicken pox cannot be stopped; only the symptoms can be treated. Antibiotics are usually not required, but if the sores are infected by bacteria, your child’s paediatrician may prescribe it.
Despite being a mild disease, chicken pox can at times be fatal. It can cause serious conditions like skin infections, dehydration, pneumonia and swelling of the brain.
Take care to see that she does not scratch the rash as it may cause severe infection. She should also get adequate rest as it enhances the recovery process by strengthening the immune system. Moisturise her skin with lotion as dryness of the skin causes the itching to increase. It is recommended to take bath in cool or lukewarm water to relieve itching.
What to eat or avoid
If your pre-schooler has chicken pox, give her a soft, bland diet till she is better. She may have blisters in the mouth at times making it difficult for her to drink or eat. Avoid food that is acidic or salty. Give your child plenty of water to maintain hydration levels.
Do not rely on self-medication. It is also advisable to consult a paediatrician and get prescription for pain relief. Even consuming an Aspirin during such times can lead to a rare but serious disease, leading to liver failure.
The author is a Pediatrician at Zen Hospital.
Also read:Skin care in children