Chicken pox is very contagious, 90% of children will have had the infection by age 10.
It often begins with a low-grade fever, and later small red dots may develop on the skin, often at times on the scalp, face, or upper trunk. These red splotches appear as small, raised, water-filled blisters, and may develop all over the body. After the blisters rupture, they scab over and heal. Incubation periods (the time from receiving the virus to developing symptoms) for chickenpox, range from 10 to 21 days. It is extremely rare to get the infection more than once.
If your child is diagnosed with chicken pox, it is important to understand the following:
- Aspirin should not be given to children who have chickenpox during the illness and for the four weeks after the scabs have healed over. You can give your child acetaminophen (such as Tylenol or Tempra) in appropriate doses for minor complaints if they are in pain or have a fever.
- Chicken pox is contagious but only to those who have not previous had it. The infection can be dangerous to people with weakened immune systems and pregnant women in their first trimester or last month, so do your best to keep your child away from friends or family who fit those criteria.
- Until all your child's scabs are healed they are still contagious, after healing is complete your child is good to go back to school.
- It's typical for brothers or sisters who have not yet had chickenpox to catch the virus and rash within one to three weeks after the first child becomes ill.
- Your child’s pediatrician may recommend antihistamines such as Benadryl or Benylin to relieve itching. Since children tend to scratch the most as they fall off to sleep, the bedtime dose can be the most helpful.
- Cetaphil lotion, baking soda baths, and Calamine (NOT Caladryl) lotion are also helpful for some children with itching.