Chickenpox - Treatment

With children, treatment of chickenpox usually takes place in the home and focuses on reducing fever and discomfort. Because chickenpox is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not effective against the disease. Applying wet compresses (folded cloths) can help relieve itching. Cool or lukewarm baths once a day may also help. The addition of baking soda or oatmeal to the bath water makes the bath more soothing. Only mild soaps should be used for the bath. The child should be patted dry, not rubbed, to prevent irritating the blisters. Calamine lotion also helps to reduce itching.

The child's fingernails should be kept short during the disease. That will prevent scratching of the blisters, which can lead to infection. Older children should be warned not to scratch. For babies, light mittens or socks on the hands can help guard against scratching.

Blisters in the mouth can make eating and drinking uncomfortable. Children may find it easier to have cold drinks and soft, bland foods. Genital blisters can be treated with an anesthetic (pain-killing) cream recommended by a doctor or pharmacist. Antibiotics are used if blisters become infected.

Acetaminophen (pronounced uh-see-tuh-MIN-uh-fuhn) and other drugs can be used to treat fever and discomfort. Aspirin should be avoided when treating children. It has been shown to cause Reye's syndrome in children, a serious disease of the nervous system.

Children with weakened immune systems may be given antiviral (viruskilling) drugs, such as acyclovir (pronounced a-SI-klo-veer, trade name Zovirax). The drug has been recommended by some doctors for the relief of chickenpox symptoms in children and adults with normal immune systems, but experts still disagree about the use of acyclovir for this purpose.

Alternative Treatment

Along with cool or lukewarm baths, alternative practitioners recommend the use of various natural products, such as aloe vera, witch hazel, or a combination of rosemary and calendula, for treating itching caused by blisters. Some common homeopathic remedies include windflower, poison ivy, and sulfur.

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