At some point in our childhood, we might have experienced chickenpox. While chickenpox most often occurs in children under the age of 12, it can also occur in adults who never had it as children.
Chickenpox is an itchy rash of spots that look like blisters and can appear all over the body while accompanied by flu-like symptoms. Chickenpox is very contagious, which is why your pediatrician in places a strong emphasis on keeping infected children out of school and at home until the rash is gone.
What are the Symptoms of Chickenpox?
When a child first develops chickenpox, they might experience a fever, headache, sore throat, or stomachache. These symptoms may last for a few days, with a fever in the 101-102 F range. The onset of chickenpox causes a red, itchy skin rash that typically appears on the abdomen or back and faces first, then spreads to almost any part of the body, including the scalp, mouth, arms, legs, and genitals.
The rash begins as multiple small red bumps that look like pimples or insect bites, which are usually less than a quarter of an inch wide. These bumps appear in over two to four days and develop into thin-walled blisters filled with fluid. When the blister walls break, the sores are left open, which then dries into brown scabs. This rash is extremely itchy and cool baths or calamine lotion may help to manage the itching.
What are the Treatment Options?
A virus causes chickenpox, which is why your pediatrician will not prescribe an antibiotic to treat it. However, your child might need an antibiotic if bacteria infect the sores, which is very common among children because they will often scratch and pick at the blisters—it is important to discourage this. Your child’s pediatrician will be able to tell you if a medication is right for your child.
If you suspect your child has chickenpox, contact your pediatrician right away!