Anyone that has had chicken pox knows it can be very unpleasant. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus and affects people at different degrees. Once the virus has been transmitted you won’t know you have it until you start seeing spots appear. Unfortunately, you become infectious two days prior to this which can be a nuisance and a sneaky way for the virus to ensure it gets itself passed around.
How can you Catch Chicken Pox?
The spots that develop are full of bacteria and scratching helps to release these, spread the infection and cause scaring.
Chicken pox can be caught by just being near someone with the virus either whilst having a face to face conversation or even just being in the same room for about 15 minutes. Touching the blisters or an object the person has been in contact with (that has been contaminated) can also help pass the virus on.
(Check out Mr Squishy’s chicken pox!!!!!)
Would you believe we had a spate of it in the children’s school and neither of my girls managed to catch it even though we did all of the above. The girls even went to a friends house with the intention of catching the virus so we could get it over and done with – you’ve all heard of chicken pox parties haven’t you, well we were trying a chicken pox playdate. I remember watching the girls actually touching their friends chicken pox and sods law we got nadda, not a blooming sausage, how frustrating! We had even gotten the kids to get extremely close in desperation and still ziltch. Another playdate with a contaminated child eventually resulted in success to my surprise having given up hope. Insane hey, wanting to get a virus but there is method in my madness.
As we age our skin loses the ability to heal as well as when we are younger so when those dreaded itchy chicken pox get scratched an adult is more likely to be left with scar tissue. As well as this it’s better to get it out of the way as a child as it won’t cause such a great impact on their school work at the lower levels. It is also suggested that getting chicken pox from someone that is not a family member is better than when it is passed from one sibling to the next it seems the sibling that gets it next will get it worse than the brother or sister that had it initially. I strongly agree with this having seen it progress as it went from one of my children to the next. This is thought to be due to the increased exposure they get as they are in greater contact with siblings than children at school. Another reason why getting this virus is better in childhood is that it result in more serve symptoms in adults.
I know some might wonder why we don’t just get children vaccinated to prevent them getting it in the first place. The vaccination is not available on the NHS for healthy children so can cost up to £100 not much in the scheme of things but what is an important factor to consider is that if you get Chicken pox and are then re exposed to the virus later the you get an added boost in your immunity against shingles which trust me you really don’t want!
Chicken pox will normally last for 10 to 20 days and during the infectious stage (before the spots form scars) children do not go to school as they can of course infect others and also cause a possible risk to any expectant mothers that they may come in contact with.
Treating the Itching
Treating the itching of chicken pox is super easy and it has become much more refined in this day and age. Gone are the days of slopping the dreaded stinky Calamine Lotion all over your body with the aim to cover all the spots. That was my first go to when my kiddies had it because I had had it as a child but tracking down the stuff proved to be harder than I had initially expected. I then thought I would try going down the natural route and made an oat bath as this has a natural demulcent action (relives inflammation and irritation). The problem with this was getting it to cover the whole body and you had to have the oats in a muslin bag and squeeze this to get the best results which was pretty messy – thankfully it was in the bath.
I am aware that some use antihistamines orally to help prevent children scratching especially at night but we didn’t do this. Another product that I discovered was available is Care Virasoothe. This seems to be available everywhere so was the obvious choice. Not only will you find it in Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda it is also available in Boots and Lloyds pharmacy.
The Care Virasoothe is so much easier to apply than Calamine Lotion as it comes in either gel or spray-gel form and it really does seem to have a cooling effect on the skin and relieve itching so will assist in reducing the chance of scarring. Both forms are easy to apply and are messy free. Now for the science part – don’t worry it’s brief. The product utilises a unique osmotic action – drawing water from the dermis (lower level of the skin) into the epidermis (upper level of the skin) creating a cooling effect as it evaporates. Not only does this relieve the irritation but also protects the skin’s environment, allowing it to heal naturally which can help reduce long-term scarring.
It can be used from 6 months of age and is available from Boots, Pharmacies and Supermarkets nationwide. It’s soothing effect has been clinically proven to work which is also good to know.
Have you had chicken pox yet? If so what did you use to treat it?
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