how to ride out the chicken pox and maintain your sanity

Hello Everyone!  We’ve been MIA for a few weeks now, as we’ve had a lot going on at home.  We just welcomed a new baby 13 days ago, had some post-birth complications, and woke up this morning to find our four year old daughter covered in chickenpox!  Busy, busy, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some tips to help keep your little ones happy when they are feeling crummy with the chicken pox.Is Chickenpox Even Necessary

With a chickenpox vaccine out there, many parents might be wondering if it’s worth it to expose their children to chickenpox.  They’re itchy, they’re cranky and they miss a week of school.  Besides being a mild illness that usually resolves on its own within a week, studies have shown that exposure to certain viruses can offer natural protection against certain types of cancers in the future.  Chickenpox exposure has been associated with a 20-40% lower risk of glioma.  Exposure to the vaccine does not offer the same protection.  Other viruses, like mumps, have also been associated with decreased cancer risks, and organisations like the Mayo Clinic are looking at virology as a potential treatment for cancer in the future. In addition, exposure to the wild virus offers lifelong immunity.

Chickenpox Symptoms

The first sign of chickenpox are usually the spots, although some children might seem like they are coming down with an illness a few days before.  Our daughter had a cough that she couldn’t shake.  The spots normally appear somewhere on the body, are very itchy, and spread for about 3-5 days.  Other symptoms can include fever, aches and pains and a loss of appetite.  We’ve been quite lucky in that our daughter seems to have itchy spots and be cranky only, but then again, it’s only day one.

If you aren’t sure if it’s chickenpox, call your doctor to confirm a diagnosis.  Here are a list of rashes in children to help you if you are unsure of what your child might have.

Managing Chickenpox

If your child does have chickenpox, your number one goal should be to keep them comfortable and happy.  Managing any discomfort and keeping them from being itchy will go a long way in maintaining your sanity and having the days pass by a bit quicker.

  • All rules go out the window.  So far we’ve had ice cream for breakfast, movies, music at 4am, crafts including glue and glitter in bed, basically anything to keep her distracted and happy.
  • Don’t scratch!  Scratching can lead not only to horrible lifelong scars, but also increases risk of infection and hospitalisation.  We’ve given our daughter fluffy socks to use as gloves so she can “rub” her blisters instead of scratching them.
  • Special baths.  There are several ingredients you can add to a bath in order to help with the drying out and itchiness.  These include , , or even .  We are having a “volcano bath” later on which she is really looking forward to.
  • Cuddles & rest.  Don’t underestimate the power of a cuddle.  Skin to skin contact with your poorly child has many benefits, including temperature regulation, boosting immunity, and shortening the length of illness.  Chances are you’ve already had chickenpox and are immune to reinfection, so get in bed with your little one, read a book, or take a nap together.

Natural Remedies

Although chickenpox does resolve on its own within about 10 days, there are things you can take to help your little one recover faster:

  • Antivirals including and are excellent at combating the chickenpox and shingles virus.  For a child, give five drops of oregano oil in a shot glass of water 2-3 times a day.  The dose for olive leaf extract is 1/2 of the adult dose three times a day.
  • sprayed directly on the spots helps relieve itching.
  • Raw honey also helps with itching and can be used after a bath.
  • Calendula cream is amazing for relieving many issues with the skin, including chickenpox.
  • If you have a , you can also use rhus tox, aconite and pulsatilla.  Make sure you check the booklet and match the symptoms with the remedy.
  • Breast milk has antibodies that can fight chicken pox. I gave my daughter breast milk in a cup on day 2 and she didn’t have any new spots the following day. By day 4 they were all scabbed over. Check out this study as well.

Final Advice

Remember, do not give ibuprofen to a child with chickenpox, as it can cause serious medical complications.  Staying away from pregnant women and infants is also very important.  Pregnant women who are exposed to chickenpox and are not immune can end up having babies with birth defects and/or newborns with a more severe form of chickenpox.  If a pregnant woman has immunity to chickenpox, her baby is protected in the womb and usually for the first few months life by its mother’s antibodies.  This is called passive immunity and lasts between 3-6 months for breastfed infants with mothers that have naturally acquired immunity.  Luckily, I had the chickenpox as a child, and so I’m not very worried for my 12 day old, although we are keeping my four year old from touching him just to be on the safe side.

Have Fun

Chickenpox can be pretty rough for a small child.  Try to make it fun for your them with extra attention and lots of silly time.  Instead of focusing on her itchiness, my husband and I have been recalling what a great time we had eating ice cream and doing silly things like wearing socks on our hands or being slathered in honey like a bear.  With proper rest and fluids, your little one should be back to their normal selves in no time.  There’s also no reason to keep them indoors.  While they are still getting spots and are contagious, try to take them for short walks or picnics in the garden.  Once the scabs crust over, your child is no longer contagious and can go outside.

What are your top tips for managing chickenpox?

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