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How to recognise and treat chicken pox in children

Because of its rather distinctive features (particularly the itchy rash), knowing how to recognise and treat chicken pox generally makes it a home-diagnosable disease, and it is not always necessary to visit your GP. However, because some of its symptoms are associated with other conditions, it is worth checking with your doctor if you have any doubts.

Symptoms of chicken pox

The most familiar symptom of chicken pox is a rash consisting of clusters of small, extremely itchy spots, which can occur basically anywhere on the body, from the top of the head to the soles of feet and anywhere in between, including inside the mouth.

The spots will begin as irritating, itchy red dots. After about 12 hours, they will develop a blister on top and become considerably more itchy. The spots will not all develop at the same, and new spots may continue to appear after other spots have already developed blisters. After a couple of days, each cluster of blisters will crust over, and after a little more than a week, they will fall off naturally.

Prior to noticing any spots, your child my exhibit general flu-like symptoms, including lethargy, loss of appetite, headache, high temperature above 38 degrees, and a generally unwell feeling.

In very rare circumstances, a chicken pox infection may be more extreme: if your child suffers any difficulty in breathing, or if the area around the spots becomes painful rather than itchy, consult your doctor immediately.

Treatment of chicken pox

While there is no cure for chicken pox, and the disease will generally clear up without any intervention after a couple of weeks, there are lots of things you can do to lessen the extremity of the symptoms.

It is important to constantly remind your child to not scratch the spots, lest they lead to more permanent scars. Younger children may benefit from sleeping with socks over their hands to stop them from scratching in the night.

Extremely itchy skin may be soothed with camomile lotion, cooling gels, or even old-fashioned iodine.

If your child feels unwell because of the fever, a gentle painkiller such as paracetamol will calm the effects. Be careful to check the recommended doses.

Again because of the fever and the risk of dehydration, make sure your child has plenty to drink. An ice lolly might serve the shared effect of providing fluid and easing the problem of any spots inside the mouth.

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