Fortunately most children are immune to this illness because of having received the Varivax vaccine as part of their immunization series. Occasionally, a vaccinated child develops a break-through incidence (usually mild), as has happened in these cases. Please take note of some precautions for both children and adults that deserve careful consideration.Symptoms:
- Chickenpox is often preceded by a mild headache, fever, loss of appetite, and then itching.
- The rash typically begins on the trunk, chest and back, and spreads to the face and almost to anywhere else including the mouth, throat and genitals.
- Initially the rash resembles an insect bite or pimple, progressing to a (vesicle) blister-like sac. After a day or two, fluid turns cloudy and eventually forms a crusted scab.
- Some children breeze through with just a few spots, while others endure several hundred lesions!
- Chickenpox is highly contagious and is spread by direct body contact and air droplets via sneezes and coughs. It can also be transmitted through contact with lesions from someone who has shingles.
- The incubation period can range from 11-21 days, with the average time from exposure to onset of symptoms being 14-16 days.
- A child with chickenpox is contagious one or two days before the rash erupts and continues to be so until all the blisters have crusted over.
- Monitor temperature regularly; do not give aspirin due to association with Reye's Syndrome, a serious brain condition. (Acetaminophen is acceptable for fever and aches). Call your doctor if your child's temperature goes above 102 degrees, and if he/she has vomiting, a stiff neck, and appears weak.
- Keep fingernails short and clean to discourage scratching, which can lead to infection (impetigo).
- For itching, apply calamine lotion, caladryl, and give lukewarm baths with baking soda or an oatmeal bath product. Antihistamines such as Benadryl can also help control itching.
An expectant mother who has never had chickenpox should avoid exposure if at all possible and speak with her obstetrician if exposed (especially during the first trimester).