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When your child has chickenpox...
Dr Roopa Nishi Viswanathan |
June 27, 2005
ur son Uday was about 10 months old when my sister's children came down with mild cases of chickenpox. I did not know chickenpox could be serious, so I let Uday play with his cousins. I thought it was better to get chickenpox in childhood rather than later.
"Within two weeks, Uday started to break out with the rash, which was on his head, ears, eyelids, lips, practically everywhere! The sores were itchy and caused him great discomfort. Some of the pocks became infected.
"Uday's chickenpox was gone in two weeks, but at five years, he still has scars. The doctor says most of them will eventually clear up. But I will never forget the harrowing experience."
Sounds familiar? Every parent goes through the motions when their child is affected by chickenpox.
If you are savvy about the disease, there are ways to make your child feel more comfortable during this period.
A checklist for chickenpox
~ For the pain and fever
i. NEVER give aspirin to a child with chickenpox. It can cause a dangerous reaction.
Ask your pediatrician to prescribe a medication to reduce fever or ease the pain.
ii. Give your child plenty of fluids and keep him/ her in bed.
Fruit juices are great because they also contain a lot of Vitamin C and A that promote healing.
i. Cotton clothing helps cool a child's skin.
Keeping the skin cool may decrease the amount of discomfort experienced.
ii. Change clothing regularly.
Clean clothing is comfortable for the skin and reduces the risk of infection.
iii. A cool shower and hair shampoo can help keep the sores clean and may help prevent infection of the sores.
iv. Avoid contact with others to prevent spreading infection.
~ For the itch
i. A bath with channa dal (chickpea) that's been ground to a fine powder often helps to relieve itching (make sure your child is not allergic to channa dal).
ii. Scratching might cause infection or scarring. If the itching is intolerable, encourage gentle variable pressure instead of rubbing hard or scratching.
iii. Fingernails should be trimmed short to prevent abrasive scratching.
iv. A cool, wet washcloth on the itchy area can help relieve the itch.
v. Calamine lotion can act as a topical anesthetic and can relieve the itching to a certain extent.
vi. Antihistaminics can be used if they are prescribed by your pediatrician.
Effects of chickenpox during pregnancy
Chickenpox during pregnancy can cause several problems.
i. The mother is prone to complications such as pneumonia.
ii. Premature labour and delivery can occur.
iii. The child can suffer from birth defects.
iv. If the mother has chickenpox during delivery, the illness can be fatal for the newborn.
Part I: Chickenpox: you don't HAVE to get it
Dr Roopa Nishi Viswanathan has an MBBS from KEM Hospital, Mumbai, with a Masters in Nutrition from the University of Texas at Austin.