Wednesday 9 March 2011

How to cope with Chicken Pox

As most of you know, Ruby has just got over Chicken pox.  It started with one child at her nursery contracting it from his older brother, them spread like wildfire.

The trouble with chickenpox is that it is contagious in the incubation period, before the spots show, hence the reason it gets passed on, because you may not know a child has it.

Ruby was a bit unwell for a fortnight before the spots appeared. Nothing specific, just a bit grumpy, and upset tummy and a cold.  Different children manifest different symptoms in this stage - some of her friends had sore throats, one had conjunctivitis, one had vomiting...

To be honest, unless I'd been aware of the outbreak at nursery, I probably wouldn't have figured she had chickenpox until she was totally covered in spots.  She started off with a couple of very big, angry looking spots (rather than a rash, they are just like adult spots in all their red and yellow disgustingness).  She's had lots of rashes before - our GP's favourite phrase seems to be 'non-specific viral rash', but this was nothing like that!

Now, obviously I'm not a doctor, and this is not medical advice.  Some children get very poorly with this illness and in rare cases develop complications.  IF YOU ARE AT ALL WORRIED YOU SHOULD CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR.

I got a very helpful email from the PR company for Eurax, which offered lots of useful tips which I thought I'd pass on:

Chicken pox season peaks in March to May with 77%* cases of the varicella-zoster virus reported in these months – so your daughter’s nursery is a little early this year! As you have mentioned, it leaves everyone uncomfortable as your child’s agonising itch can prove a testing time.

There is always the concern that scratching can cause further irritation, possible infection and scarring and it can mean it feels hard to take an eye off them even for a moment. However Eurax, an over the counter itch relief cream and lotion, have put together a few simple tips to help all the family through it with their sanity - and skin - in check. 

The Eurax top tips to stop the Chicken Pox itch:

· Dress your child in loose fitting clothes, preferably smooth, cotton fabrics to  avoid irritating the skin
· Instruct children to rub with an open palm rather than itching with fingernails, and keep fingernails clipped very short
· Fresh air helps so don’t shy away from allowing them to enjoy the outdoors - as long as they’re not interacting with other children
· Strip their bed of sheets and blankets – additional material that gathers while they sleep can irritate the skin
· Sleep is key – for your child’s body to recover and mum and dad to regain energy.  Sleep while your child sleeps.  The active ingredients of Eurax reduce inflammation and soothe irritation to provide up to 10 hours of relief from itching, meaning a restful sleep for all
Most of all – stay positive.  While it’s a week or so of your lives, you have to put all plans on hold and embrace it.  Keep busy to distract your child’s mind from the itch and make it fun – even when in the incubation phase.  Stock up on their favourite treats and activities like baking, drawing and movies to put a smile on their face, and yours.

I think the last point is key!  Being stuck indoors for 10 days or so nearly drove us spare!  Keeping busy with lots of craft activities helped keep us occupied and took her mind of being poorly. 

It also helps if you have someone who can pop round with essentials like milk and bread - if you're stuck at home on your own with a poxy child, you can't even get out to the shops.  Ruby had hers over half term, so much as we'd have loved to go for a walk to the park, we daren't because I knew there would be other children about.

I was sent some Eurax cream to try, but partly because the post took so long and the itching had pretty much passed by the time it had arrived, and partly because the instructions said not to be used on under 3's, we didn't try it. I know Ruby is almost 3, but I wouldn't take any chances with medication or products like this.  However, she did manage to pass the spots on to her older cousin, so he was able to put the cream to good use!  With a combination of the Eurax cream and piriton my sister-in-law reported hardly any scratching.

I would say, if you have younger children, dont waste your time with calamine lotion.  It was a total pain to apply as you need to put it on with cotton wool, which just soaks it all up, and it had no effect whatsoever on Ruby.  We bought some cream with calamine in and that was much more effective and easier to use - once we made a game of it and allowed her to cover us with it too!

So, if you are suffering with chickenpox, good luck, hope your little one gets well soon, and if you have any useful tips you want to add, please do so below. x

Sponsored post: We were sent a sample of the cream free of charge.


  1. We were recommended calamine lotion but I hated it. The other thing I found was putting some oatmeal/oats in an old pair of tights and then running the bath water through it helpful.

    Missy Woo had hers at 10 months - just after her brother. She got really bad fever too so remember they can have calpol or ibuprofen to keep them cool.

    1. Call is very effective or infant paracetamol but in NO circumstances give IBUPROFEN or ASPRIN, the former can cause blood poisoning as the spots go further into the dermis layers of the skin and can cause blood poisoning. This happened to a friends son his spots spread much deeper into his skin was in hospital for 3 weeks with blood poisoning and has been left scared very badly.
      The use of ASPRIN can cause Renes Desease.

  2. Thanks for the tips Kate.

    Yes, we were lucky there wasn't a temperature, but I know most children do get a raised temperature.

    I had heard of the oats but we didn't try it. I also read that 'pea water' (ie water that peas have been cooked in) is supposed to be good too!

  3. we were suggested not to use calamine, as when it dries on the skin it tightens up and makes you more itchy! i went for piriton! seened to help my 2 who had it last year, tiny first who gave it to her big brother who then passed it on to half his class at school!

  4. thanks for the tips, I will bear these in mind if (or should I say when) any of my 3 get the chicken spots as we call it - 10yrs we have managed to avoid it so far, every time it does the rounds I think it'll be this time & it never is! (oops have I just tempted fate???)

  5. Thanks undomesticated scientist. We used piriton too and it seemed to help - particularly at night. So if your child's old enough to take it, I'd recommend that too.

    Oh Helen, I hope if/when yours get it, it's not too bad. They do say it's far better to have it in childhood than adulthood where it can develop into shingles. x

  6. Thanks for this post! Our LO turns 2 tomorrow and a few bumps appeared today (happy birthday, kiddo!). She's been cranky and had some tummy issues the last couple of days. Of course I'm turning to the internet first, as our doctor's office is closed until the morning, but I appreciate your candor and tips to keep her comfortable until we can get in and be sure.