Chickenpox (Varicella) (cont.)
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Most healthy children, teens, and adults with chickenpox (varicella) need only home treatment. But all teens and adults with chickenpox need to see a doctor. Call first to make an appointment and to discuss whether you need to take any steps to avoid spreading the virus when you arrive. For example, office staff may take you straight to an exam room, rather than have you wait in the lobby.
If you have chickenpox, you do not need to stay in bed, but it's best to stay quiet and rest. You can take oral over-the-counter medicines to treat symptoms such as fever and itching. Before giving medicine to your sick child, check with your child's doctor. Because of their small size, children are more sensitive than adults to the effects of some medicines. Use a measuring spoon or medicine cup to give liquid medicine to a child. Do not guess the amount or use a regular table spoon.
The chickenpox rash itches. Scratching the blisters may cause a skin infection or scars to form after the blisters heal. You can take steps at home to control itching, such as taking oatmeal baths, applying cool compresses, and taking antihistamines by mouth. Check with your child's doctor before giving your child antihistamines.
Fever is your body's normal response to infection. A higher-than-normal temperature kills bacteria and viruses that cause illness. Medicines that reduce fever stop this natural process, so they should be used only as needed. If a child with chickenpox does not act sick or complain of symptoms, you may choose not to give medicine for fever. Call your doctor if your child's fever lasts longer than 48 hours. You can help reduce a fever by using over-the-counter medicines and drinking cool liquids. Follow the package instructions carefully. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's advice about what amount to give. (Do not give aspirin to people younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome).
Prevent the spread of infection
Chickenpox can spread easily from one person to another. If you have frequent and close contact with a person infected with chickenpox, such as a family member, you may be exposed to a large amount of the virus. As a result, you may develop a more severe illness than the person who spread it. You also may be at greater risk for complications from the illness, especially if you have an impaired immune system. To prevent the spread of chickenpox, you or your child should stay home from work or school when ill.
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