Chicken Pox always seems to be doing the rounds. Thankfully, it’s one of the mildest childhood diseases and it is thought to be beneficial in some ways to help a healthy immune system to develop.
Most people only get it once (but we are seeing more and more kids getting it several times if their immune system is not working 100%) and quite a few people develop shingles later in life if they are run down or going through a stressful time.
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Because chicken pox can make an adult really quite unwell, it is best to get this virus as a child. This is partly why historically parents would gather together children for “chicken pox parties” to get it over and done with whilst they are young.
Chicken pox is very contagious and caused by the varicella-zoster virus – it is spread by coughing and sneezing, and also by contact with the spots when the virus is active. There is usually a two-three weeks incubation period between catching it and the spots appearing.
It normally results in a skin rash that forms small itchy blisters which scab over within 3 days. It typically starts on the chest, back, and face then spreads further. It can be accompanied by fever, tiredness, a sore throat and a headache which usually last 5-7 days. During this time, you need to stay at home.
Most kids are not that unwell with chicken pox, and it usually looks worse than it feels. Occasionally in a child who has an immune system with an autoimmune inflammatory skew, varicella can cause more significant problems such as brain inflammation, but this is extremely rare. Sometimes the virus can make the child quite run down and complications may include pneumonia or bacterial skin infections.
So, this is why it’s important to support immunity in the run up to, during and after chicken pox.
- Avoid giving aspirin and ibuprofen, as these do not sit well with this virus and have the potential to lead to further nasty inflammatory conditions.
- Increase Vitamin D, zinc and berry intake as these are thought to help inactivate the virus – think mixed berries (in smoothies, compotes or fresh) as well as seeds, nuts, dairy, fish & seafood – consider topping up with Vitamin D, zinc and elderberry-based food supplements.
- Hang a muslin cloth filled with oats beneath a running tap. This makes the water creamy and a lovely soothing bath that your kids can soak in and helps to take away the itch.
- Use a calendula and zinc-based cream two to three times a day to help soothe the spots whilst they are itchy.
- Dab or rub Rosehip and/or Argan oil on the spots twice daily for several months afterwards to help prevent the skin from scarring.
Obviously this is not medical advice and you should see your GP if you are concerned. Here is advice from the NHS, but I hope these tips are helpful and that your little ones get over this very common (and inevitable) childhood infection with ease!