Friday, 12 April 2013

Chicken Pox for the uninitiated....

Everything you ever didn't want to have to know about Chicken Pox from a Mum who has nursed 5 of my own children through Chicken Pox. What follows isn't a Medical guideline, it's my experience. If you want a medical explanation or advice then there are millions of pages online such as this NHS page, and you can go and see your GP or Practise Nurse, you could even look it up in a good old-fashioned book!

If you remember Chicken Pox then it's probably because you had it really bad when you were a teenager or an adult, and the experience is etched on your mind forever. You were really ill and everyone laughed at your scabs (maybe). If you had it young then you were probably just a bit itchy and can't really remember it at all. As far as I can see, somewhere between 2 years and 6 years is the optimum time to catch it, and is indeed the point when most children do...

In glorious technicolour ~

1.Chicken Pox starts before that first single spot, in fact your child is highly contagious for a couple of days before you could possibly know they have it. You may find yourself faced with a really grumpy and irritable child who isn't happy at all. You may know that they aren't well, or you just think they turned into a teenager overnight.

chicken pox on 3 year old boy
Day 1 AM, Day 1 PM
Day 2 AM, Day 2 PM



2.With the first spot the temperature becomes a bit raised, and within hours that spot will be one of several. They will keep coming for a while, usually the next 2-6 days. Boy no.2 had one spot on Christmas Day morning which we watched like hawks. At 2pm he developed another 4 or 5, and by 8pm he was completely covered in hundreds. He was 4 weeks old - it kinda spoiled the whole 'cute new baby' thing.

what do chicken poc spots look like
Day 3 AM and PM
Day 4 AM

3. The spots start out as red dots, then pimples, then they form blisters which look to have watery yellow liquid inside - this is the most delightfully attractive stage, and when I was a 13 year old who caught Chicken Pox, this was the part where I popped half my spots and smeared them with Toothpaste because I thought I'd got acne.

chicken pox 4 year old boy
Chicken Pox Day 1 to 4


4. After a couple of days the blisters eventually seep and it forms a crusty scab. Once every single spot has a scab on like this, you're no longer contagious and can go back to work or school. Yep, you read me right, off you go. Never mind that actually you're still feeling very sorry for yourself and you look like someone got busy with cornflakes and PVA glue, you're all better. This is not a disease you want to catch as an adult, and it is certainly one that is not pleasant when you're in the middle of those sensitive teenage years.

chicken pox crusty spots
Chicken Pox Day 6 - crusty!


What you CAN do ~

1. Cool baths really soothe the skin, a couple of teaspoons of Bicarbonate of Soda or some plain oats tied securely into a clean sock in the bath is even better. It can also help bring down any hot temperatures.

2. Medicines - Piriton or another Anti-Histamine is your best friend and THE best thing for the itch. Your child will also probably have a temperature which makes them even more uncomfortable and can cause it's own rash, so Calpol (or any appropriate paracetamol or Ibuprofen) is your second best friend.

3. Calamine Lotion dabbed on spots is very useful, but dries the skin. Calamine do a cream instead which is apparently very good, but I've never found or used it. Your child is very unlikely to want to sit there while you poke and prod them, so give them some cotton wool and let them dab their own spots. It will make them feel they're doing something and will help prevent the inevitable moment when they accuse you of trying to hurt them to death.

4. The reason people get scars from Chicken Pox is because the tops are knocked or rubbed off the spots. This can be when they're bubbly, or when they're scabby. Be especially careful when you pick your child up, carry them, dress them and dry them after the bath. Cut their nails at the first available moment and try to give them things to do to keep their hands busy.

chicken pox spots in mouth

5. Chicken Pox can be a problem because spots can be anywhere on the skin or mucous membranes - ANYWHERE - in the mouth, on the eyelids, in the most private of private parts. They can make going to the loo VERY uncomfortable. It may be time to eat your words about never buying Kando wipes - this is the time they come into their own.

chicken pox spots on face

6. Most children are not very ill, none of mine were either, but some people can get very poorly. Generally though it's just the most annoying childhood disease, and your child will be grumpy, uncomfortable and irritable and won't want to focus on anything too strenuous - time to bring out the DVD's and read together.

7. If you are breastfeeding then don't stop. It is without any doubt the reason Boy no.2 was fine even though he was only 4 weeks old when he caught Chicken Pox.

The Old Wives Bit ~

1. You CAN catch Chicken Pox again. Logic and experience would suggest that people who have a really nasty case of Chicken Pox build up better immunity, and are therefore less likely to catch it again, but still it's no guarantee.

2. The virus that causes Chicken Pox is called Varicella and it doesn't actually go away entirely, it lies dormant in your body. Just for giggles it can decide to rear up and then you will get Shingles. You CAN NOT catch Shingles, it develops from within your own body. A person with Shingles can give you Chicken Pox, but a person with Chicken Pox can not give you Shingles.

Day 14 - All nearly gone

chicken pox spots two weeks

I'm sure I've forgotten more than I've remembered, and everyone's experience is different, plus you might have some great tips, so I'd be delighted if you want to add any comments!

I've also written about another childhood favourite - Headlice. There's even a video...


If you think I'm mean for posting all these pics of my poorly children, I assure you I had permission to take and post every one. My little children don't have the same access to mirrors as the taller people, and they were both delighted to be able to see the spots progressing, and are fascinated by them now!

28 comments:

  1. Brilliant post. Is it mean that I was hoping Bud would catch it from your two? No success though, he's probably saving it up for when he starts attending the germ pool of pre-school!

    I had it when I was 12, it was awful. I have the scars to show for it. It wasn't as bad as when my Dad caught it from me though, adult Chicken Pox is not fun at all.

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    1. Yep, I have scars from when I was 13 - not surprising after how I treated my spots though! :D

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  2. my middle one had a mild case at 3, but my eldest didn't get it until 10 and she was very poorly and had spots in her throat, and as you say, in the most private of places. Poor thing! Littlest hasn't had it yet, but he is nearing 2 and once we are passed that age I shall waft him near infectious people as am sure it was being older that made my eldest suffer so badly!

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    1. Mine have been in contact with people with Chicken Pox absolutely loads of times before, I can't believe they took so long to get it - it's definitely better over and done with earlier. Get wafting :D

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  3. Brilliant post. Poor little man though! They look so painful. I am not looking forward to when Cameron gets them. He has really bad eczema as it is, so chicken pox would drive him insane!

    I had Chicken Pox twice as a child and I have had shingles 3 times as an adult (Im 25!)

    Laura x x x

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    1. Oh crikey, you are so unlucky, that's really unfortunate. I haven't had Shingles, but everyone who has says it's just awful.
      A couple of mine have dry skin and I put some emollient in the bath each time with the bicarb which seemed to keep them a bit happier. It would be really so sore with Eczema though - hopefully his Eczema will ease off a bit before he gets it x

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  4. Eek I never had it and I hear people do Chicken Pox parties in the UK? This looks like hell for both child and mother and really dreading it ever coming around! Great post though!

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    1. I think it really does look worse than it is. Even when it looks really red and angry, it's not as bad as it seems. Boy no.4 was on day 3 and blistery when we did the Orchard Toys Pirate Shapes video review! :D

      http://www.thebrickcastle.com/2013/04/pirate-shapes-by-orchard-toys.html

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  5. Fabulous post - so nice to have some proper information from a proper Mum! I remember when I thought Little Mr A had chicken pox and I rung the Dr for advice. They made me feel so stupid and just told me to put lotion on the spots - yeah thanks for your ever so helpful advice Dr Useless! I will be popping back when Little Miss A catches them to re-read your advice :)

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    1. Awww, thanks hon! Sorry you didn't get much help from your GP - it's hardly very reassuring of them!

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  6. Such a reassuring read for anyone worried about chicken pox. My 2 both caught it when they were 1 yrs old so don't remember, which I think is best - just hoping they don't get it again. I found the hardest thing was when they were contagious as they seemed ok and wanted to go to all the usual places but we had to wait for those nasty scabs to form!!

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    1. Thank you, that's what I was aiming for - not the scary stories people pull out when you mention an ailment!
      It was hard for us over Easter - Boy no.3 missed the whole last week of pre-school, so didn't get to enter his egg into the competition, or dress as a superhero or go to the Eater party, instead we all had to sit at home and stop his little bored brother jumping on him! :D

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  7. Great post! Very informative. I'm so glad we're over the chicken pox. They are nasty little devils.

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    1. Aw, cheers hon. I'm delighted we're done. Hopefully they all got such a good dose that we can relax until we have Grandchildren and they start with it! :D

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  8. This is really useful - GG every now and then gets a handful of chicken-pox style blisters on her bum and I decide there are fleas in the school carpet! She had it when she was only 18m and only about 20 spots, so I'm guessing she's getting it again mildly - it's been about 4 times in total!

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    1. Aw crikey, that's terrible bad luck! Poor little thing.... :(
      One of my daughter's friends has had it 4 times - it's definitely harsh...

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  9. Oatmeal baths. Shove a handful of rolled oats in a thin sock (think pantyhose or the knee-highs of similar material) and tie it to the shower latch (?? the thing you pull up to change from bath faucet to shower head). The water will mix it evenly, and it feels AMAZING. Didn't want to get out of the bath when I had it XD

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    1. People do say it's really helpful - and I think I used it as a child. Pantyhose or tights have to be the best thing too! Thank you for your comments! :)

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  10. WhenI was 5 years old I got chicken pox. I was covered from head to toe in itchy chicken pox. I had about 412 spots on my whole body. By the 3rd day my sister who was 7 years old got chicken pox from me. she only had about 173 spots on her whole body. 3 weeks later my sister and I were done with chicken pox. I only had 10 scares on my whole body. My sister had about 4 scares on her whole body.

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    1. Wow. Thanks for the comment Tessa! I can't believe you counted your spots! :D

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  11. I even hv it on the private parts... Do I need to take this any special precaution....
    Nice post btw

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  12. Thank you. No special precautions except whenever you have spots on areas that are warmer,including armpits and between toes, you have to be careful to keep them clean and cool, and avoid knocking the crusts off the spots, as they're more easily infected in those places. I hope your chicken pox is all over now :)

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  13. Thank you for this post, my boy is on day 3 and is covered, grumpy and has spots in his throat and mouth :-( Not heard of the Bicarbonate of Soda in the bath but we do have the Calamine cream from the chemist who recommended it for better healing.

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    1. Awww bless him. Oats tied into a sock also really helps to soothe :)

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  14. Oh what a fantastic and information packed post. I so wish I had read this instead of calling 111 (yes really)
    Tia took the pox like a true champ and didn't really make any fuss. She only ever had three doses of calpol but we did frequently give piriton. We also used bicarb in the bath which helped lots. We found day five to be the worst for being irritable and itchy, ow it's just a case of waiting for them to all fall? Off.

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    1. Glad you found it so useful Kelly - sorry I didn't spot your comment before, and Im' glad your daughter didn't suffer too much! :)

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  15. What a very informative post. I am hoping my boys are all ok now as they have had them when younger.

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    1. Fingers crossed - none of mine as yet have had them twice either. Thanks for your lovely comment :)

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