You don't need to go to your doctor or emergency department unless you're not sure that it's chickenpox or your child is very unwell or distressed. There’s no cure or specific treatment for chickenpox. Treatment is geared towards relieving the symptoms:
- Give your child plenty to drink.
- Use paracetamol to relieve the fever and discomfort.
- Baths, loose comfortable clothes and calamine lotion can all ease the itchiness. Gauze pads soaked in bicarbonate of soda and water that are then placed over the sores can calm the itch for a while.
- Try to stop your child scratching or picking at their spots as this will increase the risk of scarring. It's hard for children to do this, so give them plenty of praise and encouragement. Distractions, such as TV, are good for taking their mind off the itching. Crop fingernails short to reduce the abrasion from scratching and risk of bacterial infection. Let your child's day care or school know that they are ill, in case other children are at risk. Keep your child away from day care or school until the last blister has scabbed over.
- Isolate your child away from anyone especially those who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. If your child had contact with a pregnant woman just before they became unwell, let the woman know about the chickenpox (and suggest that she sees her doctor or midwife). In women who've never had chickenpox, catching the illness in pregnancy can cause miscarriage or the baby may be born with chickenpox. You should keep your child home from school or day care until all the lesions have dried otherwise you risk infecting other children which can cause serious complications.
Last reviewed: October 2016