My toddler is very independent and I have to work hard for a hug. One evening she became clingy and spent the evening on my lap. Whilst I was thrilled to spend some time snuggling with her, I knew that something wasn’t quite right. This was a bit out of character. When we arrived at nursery the next day her classroom door was emblazoned with a sign that I dreaded: ‘suspected case of chickenpox’. I stopped and considered whether we should go inside or run far, far away.
Chickenpox is infectious for two days before the spots appear. I knew that it was probably too late to avoid it. I also knew that avoiding it now may not be wise as catching chickenpox as an adult can be far more severe. We decided to carry on as normal. Millie developed a smattering of little red spots that slowly spread across her face and body over the next few days. She also developed a cold. I expected her to get chickenpox during her childhood but was concerned that she had caught it at only 20 months old. Determined to get as much information and advice as possible I consulted a pharmacist, our doctor and the NHS chickenpox information page.
Here is a list of the products and advice that helped us to deal with the dreaded chickenpox:
1. Calamine lotion – I dabbed this gently on to each spot using cotton rounds. The process was repeated three times per day. Avoid the eye area.
2. Calamine cream – We discovered this later. It was much easier to apply than the lotion as you could apply the cream as normal and did not have to focus on each individual spot. This was particularly useful with a wriggly toddler who wanted to make a quick escape.
3. Aveeno Baby Daily Care moisturising lotion – Our doctor suggested that we should use Millie’s normal moisturiser to help with the itch.
4. Bicarbonate of Soda – We put a cup of bicarb into a lukewarm bath. We just poured the water over Millie’s skin to avoid agitating the spots.
5. Never rub the spots – This can cause permanent scars and holes in the skin. Leave the dried skin to fall away naturally. Pat dry after baths and gently apply lotions and creams. We even avoided washing Millie’s hair because the chicken pox had spread to her scalp.
5. Loose clothes – This limits rubbing and helps the skin to breathe.
6. Calpol – Paracetamol helps with the elevated temperature and aches. Never give aspirin to children under 16 years old. ALWAYS consult a medical professional before giving medicine to your child for the first time.
7. Piriton syrup - Antihistamine medicine helps to relieve the itch. I was concerned about how Piriton would interact with Calpol but my doctor said that they could be taken together. PLEASE NOTE: Piriton is not licensed for babies under one year old. ALWAYS consult a medical professional before giving medicine to your child for the first time.
8. NEVER give Ibuprofen such as Nurofen to child with chicken pox - It can cause serious illness.
9. Avoid contact with pregnant women, newborn babies and people with a weakened immune system – Chickenpox can be dangerous for them. We also had to stay away from nursery until the spots had burst and dried.
10. Hydration – Keep your little one hydrated.
11. Rest – Make sure that your child is allowed to rest and recuperate so that their body can fight the virus.
12. Love and attention – At only 20 months old Millie didn’t understand why she was feeling unwell or why her previously flawless skin was covered in little polka dots. I sat with her and did everything I could to keep her content. I let her watch Peppa Pig, I held her close and provided a steady supply of her favourite snacks.
Nearly 3 months later Millie is healthy and has reverted to rationing hugs. She still has a few light red marks on her skin but they are not obvious. I am sure that they will completely fade over the next few years. If you are concerned or your child becomes lethargic or their temperature reaches over 40 degrees do not hesitate to seek emergency medical attention. You know your child better than anyone. It is far better to be safe than sorry.
Dial 111 for the NHS non-emergency service.
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In the event of a medical emergency, call a doctor or 999 immediately.