Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Most cases of chickenpox can be managed at home. Chickenpox rash tends to be extremely itchy. Several treatments can be used at home to help a child feel better.
Cool compresses applied to blisters may give relief, as may calamine lotion. Lotions containing diphenhydramine (Benadryl) should not be used -- erratic absorption through open skin lesions may occur and be associated with toxicity due
to elevated blood levels.
You can give cool-water baths every three to four hours, adding baking soda to the water to calm itching. You may also soak in an Aveeno oatmeal bath to soothe itching blisters.
Trimming fingernails can help prevent infection from scratching the blisters. If you have a small infant with chickenpox, cover the child's hands with mittens to minimize scratching.
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), loratadine (Claritin), or
cetirizine (Zyrtec) taken orally also can relieve itching. These medicines are available over the counter.
Treat fever with acetaminophen (for
example, Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil
and Motrin are common brand names). Read the label before giving any medication. Some medicines contain many
different agents. If the medicine is for a child, make sure it contains no aspirin. Never give aspirin to a child because aspirin has been associated with Reye's syndrome.
Occasionally a child will develop blisters in the mouth, making eating or drinking painful. A person should be encouraged to drink fluids to prevent dehydration. To alleviate pain, provide cold fluids (ice pops,
milk shakes, and smoothies) and soft bland foods. Avoid any foods that are spicy, hot, or acidic (for instance, orange juice).
Keep children at home from school and day care until all blisters have crusted. A child with chickenpox is extremely contagious until the last crop of blisters has crusted.
If you take your child to a doctor's office, call ahead to let the staff know that you think your child has chickenpox. They may usher you to a special waiting or treatment room to avoid exposing other children.