I have googled chickenpox quite a few times in my life. Mostly when other children have had it and Jamie has seen them while they were likely to pass it on to him. Another time was when I was pregnant as I was concerned after seeing someone whose boy came out with chickenpox a few days later. Two weeks ago most of Jamie’s friends weren’t at nursery because there was an outbreak of it. I thought we would escape it – wrong! It would seem that symptoms can actually take 10-21 days to appear from exposure…oh! Jamie is nearly 4 years old.
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I thought it might be useful to other parents to document Jamie’s chickenpox. What we used, what the stages were, did he have any symptoms, what worked best for relief, how we coped with incubation and how long did it last. Plus what on earth did we do to keep ourselves busy!?
I know this is a bit off topic as my website is about travel and days out but I do like to include helpful lifestyle posts when I can.
We will start with….
Signs of Chickenpox
Chickenpox is thought to be contagious 2 days before outbreak of the first spots. Oh whoops guess where we were two days before? In a very busy Venice and then on an aeroplane flying home. First spot was on his cheek and 2 on his neck. Chickenpox usually starts on the face and torso. We thought he’d been bitten by a mosquito as his Daddy had bites on him and he had heard one in the room the night before. Honestly we thought nothing of it at the time. Even with the outbreak at nursery I never thought it was chickenpox.
We arrived home and although he woke at 4:20am he still didn’t seem any different and went to nursery that day. He had 2 new ‘bites’ on his neck, well we thought they were bites.
That evening of day 3 with ‘bites’ I noticed quite a few spots on his back and a few on his tummy. One of them had puss trapped inside it. I was now 100% it was chicken pox. Oh no….
Main signs to look out for – Fever, loss of appetite, a few random spots (like insect bites), headache and general feeling unwell.
Mostly chickenpox is mild in children. So many say it’s better to have them when young. In most children, it is an itchy rash that starts on the face and torso and then spreads to other parts of the body.
These spots then fill with puss which then scabs over. Your child will no longer be contagious once all spots have scabbed over.
Some children can develop a fever so keep a check on their temperature. Some children can also develop complications so you should contact the doctor or even 999 if something is amiss. The NHS website provides a list of when you should contact your doctor.
Best treatment & relief for Chickenpox
I’m afraid you are going to have to keep your child at home until all the blisters have scabbed over. Not ideal I know. For us, we had plans for days out at the weekend and had to miss nursery but it could have been worse.
I have seen varying reports of the duration of spots. Some websites say 5-6 days, others up to two weeks. I changed his pyjamas every night and clothes every day so the risk of them spreading was reduced.
I asked around my friends for help and advice and I took on board most suggestions.
For easing the itching I was recommended by nearly everyone that I asked a gel called Virasoothe. I bought this at my local Boots. It cost £8.99 for the tube, it came so well recommended I had to buy it. We used this when he got up, mid afternoon and just before bed. My local boots only sold Virasoothe as a gel in a tube which you apply to each spot and rub in gently. It can also be bought as a spray gel. I used a little on each individual spot and rubbed in lightly. His clothes went back on once he was dried out, this did not take long and there was no staining from the product.
Care ViraSoothe is a clinically proven cooling gel which helps to cool and soothe the distressing symptoms of chickenpox. Unlike calamine lotion or antihistamines, Care ViraSoothe is specifically formulated to break the itch, scratch, infection cycle by rapidly calming the persistent itch.
Only a few people recommended the pink Calamine, the treatment that my Mum used. The lady in Boots didn’t recommend it at all. “It’s messy and it unnaturally dries the spots out which could slow down their natural process”. (apparently).
An antihistamine in liquid form for children was also recommended. We used this 4 times a day.
Liquid Paracetamol is recommended if there is a fever.
Ibuprofen and Nurofen must not be used, you may or may not have seen the photos on social media. Basically, it flares chickenpox up. Avoid at all costs.
For bathing, many of my friends recommended putting some oats in tights in a running warm bath. I will be trying this tonight. It’s good for naturally drying the spots up. Bicarbonate of soda in bathwater was also recommended.
We didn’t realise that he had Chickenpox until day 3 of him having spots. He only had a few to start and as we were abroad we thought they were mosquito bites. So we start at day 4 but day 1 of incubation.
Day 1 (day 4 with spots)
Today passed really quickly. He woke with quite a few more spots than he’d gone to bed with. I gave him his first dose of anti histamine and popped to the shops for the highly recommended Virasoothe and oats for using in his bath water.
He had 68 spots, some large and pussy but not wet to touch. Some of the spots were tiny, I put a bit of Virasoothe gel on all of them. Most spots were on his back with just a few on his tummy, legs, crotch, face and hair. He is generally fine in himself with no temperature. I am pretty convinced the gel is doing him lots of good. He had no desire to scratch his body at all. The only place he was scratching was in his hair where I struggled to find the spots and apply the Virasoothe gel.
I had to cancel his MMR and school. I had loads of jobs to do so we did them together. He helped tidy, clean, put the washing on, make lunch and sort photos on his camera. We played some games and went on the ipad. I also bought him ‘Friends’ magazine. He loves doing all the activities in this magazine and can spend well over an hour on it at times. The day passed well with no boredom.
After his oat bath we counted 92 spots so they were increasing. Only a small percentage had blisters, most were still too small. The blistered ones were rather large.
Day 2 (day 5 with spots)
This was the peak day for spots. When he got up we applied the gel and I counted 122 spots. Quite a lot of them were big and red. He still wasn’t itching or scratching though, aside from on top of his head where I was still struggling to apply the gel through all of his thick hair.
We managed to pot on all our vegetable plants. This is a job we’d been putting off for ages so it was good to get it done. He helped with a few other jobs too.
Day 3 (day 6 with spots)
His spots halved today. He was now down to 67. Lots of his smaller ones that hadn’t gone to puss had disappeared. There were still quite a lot yet to scab over.
We were supposed to be going out for the day today. So we decided to go for a walk in our local and very deserted bluebell woods. I’m sure that’s a safe activity for a child with chicken pox right? It was nice to get out and about, so to speak.
Day 4 (day 7 with spots)
Only a few less today. We were down to 58 and they were still all yet to scab over.
He was given a choice of things to do today and he chose to help me paint one of our rooms. It was his first time painting a wall and he loved it. He got a bit tired after a while but he was very proud of his achievements. As it was a Sunday we later had a lot of chill out time.
Day 5 (day 8 with spots)
I had hoped all of his spots would have scabbed over by today. Sadly not. He still had about 10 yet to scab over. The number of spots was pretty similar to yesterday. He was supposed to be back to nursery today. To be honest it was just me being impatient as I had read that chickenpox can last up to 2 weeks (sometimes longer).
By bath time his spots were pretty much scabbed over. It looked like school may be on the cards for Tuesday.
Day 6 (day 9 with spots)
Bingo! All spots have scabbed over and off to school he went. Well, that wasn’t too bad at all. He didn’t get a temperature, he certainly didn’t get too many spots and he was over it relatively quickly. Phew, what a relief. We are all glad that’s over and done with! We celebrated by heading to the beach the next day to blow off lots of cobwebs.
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