How to Care for a Child With Chickenpox

May 7th 2016

If your child has a weakened immune system or is a newborn, your doctor may want to prescribe the antiviral medication acyclovir. Since this has to be prescribed as soon as the rash appears, see your doctor immediately to see if he wants to treat your child's chickenpox this way. Because chickenpox is so contagious, it's thoughtful to call ahead to your doctor's office to warn them before bringing in an infected child.

Relieve the Itching

Chickenpox blisters can be incredibly itchy and irritating. However, it's important to keep your child from scratching them, as the blisters can turn into permanent scars and open sores that can admit infections, making the ordeal even worse. Give your child a cool bath, and add some oatmeal or baking soda to make it even more soothing. Dress your child in lightweight, soft clothing that doesn't irritate the sores.

Additionally, apply cool compresses regularly to relieve itching, or treat the blisters with calamine lotion. Don't use lotions that contain Benadryl because they can be toxic if they enter the bloodstream through an open sore. If the itching is particularly bad, your physician may prescribe oral antihistamines.

Prevent Scratching

Because the urge to scratch can be overwhelming, trim your child's nails closely so that she has nothing with which to scratch. Put mittens or socks over the hands of a baby or toddler to minimize scratching, and make sure her hands are covered while she's sleeping.

Relieve Fever and Pain

Administer acetaminophen if your child has a fever. You should give aspirin to a child with chickenpox because it can trigger Reye's syndrome. Some children can take ibuprofen with chickenpox; ask your doctor to be sure. If your child develops blisters in the mouth, she's likely to experience a great deal of pain. In addition to acetaminophen, give your child ice pops and cold drinks to help alleviate the pain, and only give her soft foods to eat.

Isolate the Child

Chickenpox is very contagious, especially right before the rash erupts, so keep your child at home as soon as you have a confirmed diagnosis. Your child should not see anyone who is susceptible to chickenpox until every blister has scabbed over and the sores are on their way toward healing.


While for the most part, the chickenpox virus needs to run its course, there are a few steps you can take to make time with the condition easier on your child. In addition, it's important to keep chickenpox from spreading and to be aware of the effect it can have on adults.

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