Chickenpox is considered a childhood illness, but it can also occur in adults. Chickenpox is an airborne virus that can easily be passed on over distances of even ten metres. As such, infections can even occur without direct contact taking place. The illness itself lasts between 5 and a maximum of ten days. As soon as the blisters scab over, usually from the 7th day, there tends to no longer be a risk of infection.
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella zoster virus. It is a highly contagious airborne virus. Following infection, it takes 8-21 days for the first symptoms to appear. Those affected are already contagious at this stage, even if the typical rash has not yet appeared.
Small children tend to only experience mild symptoms:
- fever, though the severity varies from one child to the other,
- feelings of discomfort and weariness,
- itchy spots covering the entire body,
- mucous membranes, e. g., in the mouth or on the conjunctiva, can also be affected by the spots.
What can mum/dad do?
- If the child is suffering from a high fever, use cool water wraps with vinegar around the feet and lower legs or give the child medication (paracetamol or ibuprofen, but not aspirin or alcacyl) to reduce their temperature.
- Cut the child’s fingernails or put on cotton gloves so that they cannot scratch themselves as this can cause scarring..
- Do not dress the child in tight clothes as this can cause even more itching.
- Use tinctures or vinegar water in case of severe itching.
- Keep the child in the shade as the skin affected by the spots can remain discoloured if exposed to the sun.
- The child can return to their childcare setting once all the spots have scabbed over and the child feels well again.
When should you see a doctor?
(Please call in advance to avoid meeting other patients at the clinic.)
- Any child younger than 8 weeks old should see a doctor.
- If spots occur on the conjunctiva or eyelid.
- If spots occur on or in the ear.
- In case of severe itching.
- If the child has scratched extensively and inflammation develops in the affected areas.
- If the child’s condition worsens or if additional symptoms occur.