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  • Mohammad Dhorowa

Managing Chickenpox: A Parent's Guide


Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a common viral infection that primarily affects children. It is characterized by the appearance of itchy, fluid-filled blisters on the skin. As parents, it's essential to be well-informed about chickenpox and understand how to effectively manage it. In this blog, we will provide you with practical advice based on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines and the Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS). Additionally, we will discuss the implications of chickenpox during pregnancy. We will also highlight over-the-counter medicines available in pharmacies in the UK to help alleviate symptoms.


Understanding Chickenpox:

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and spreads easily through respiratory droplets or direct contact with the fluid from the blisters. After exposure, it takes approximately 10 to 21 days for symptoms to appear. Common signs of chickenpox include a mild fever, headache, and the characteristic itchy red rash that progresses to fluid-filled blisters. Although chickenpox is usually a mild illness, it can cause complications in certain cases, especially in adults, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems.


Managing Chickenpox in Children:

1. Ensure Rest and Hydration: It is crucial to encourage your child to rest and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Offer water, diluted fruit juices, or oral rehydration solutions to keep them hydrated.


2. Relieve Itching: The itching caused by chickenpox can be quite uncomfortable. You can find over-the-counter medicines at your Walton pharmacy to help alleviate itching, such as calamine lotion, Virasoothe or antihistamines. Always follow the instructions provided and consult the pharmacist for appropriate dosing information.


3. Maintain Good Hygiene: Frequent handwashing is essential to prevent the spread of the virus. Ensure your child washes their hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially after scratching or touching the blisters.


4. Avoid Contact with Vulnerable Individuals: Children with chickenpox should avoid contact with newborn babies, pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or been vaccinated, and individuals with weakened immune systems, as they are more susceptible to complications.


5. Isolate Your Child: Keep your child away from school, nursery, or social gatherings until all the blisters have crusted over. This usually takes around 5-7 days from the onset of the rash.


Chickenpox and Pregnancy:

If you are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before, it's important to take extra precautions. Chickenpox during pregnancy can potentially harm both the mother and the unborn baby. Here's what you should know:


1. Immunity Testing: If you are unsure whether you've had chickenpox in the past, consult your healthcare provider. They may recommend a blood test to check your immunity status. If you're immune, you are unlikely to develop chickenpox.


2. Exposure to Chickenpox: If you come into contact with someone who has chickenpox or shingles, seek medical advice promptly. Your healthcare provider may recommend varicella-zoster immune globulin (VZIG) to help reduce the severity of the infection.


3. Vaccination: If you are not immune to chickenpox and are planning to conceive or are not yet pregnant, you can consider getting vaccinated against chickenpox. However, it is important to avoid pregnancy for at least one month after vaccination.


Conclusion:

As a parent, being knowledgeable about chickenpox is crucial for effectively managing the infection. Remember to follow the NICE guidelines and CKS recommendations to ensure your child receives appropriate care and to prevent the spread of

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