Chicken Pox

Bay Cluster Network with Dr Lamah and Reem El-Sharkawi

Chickenpox is a common condition, regularly affecting children before the age of 10 but can be seen in people of all ages. It usually improves by itself within 7-14 days and can be managed at home.

How do you know if it is chickenpox?

The main symptom of chicken pox is an itchy and spotty rash that can appear anywhere on the body.

People may also experience a high temperature that starts a day or two before a rash may appear.

You may find an individual, experiences a loss of appetite while having the infection.


There are 3 main stages of chicken pox

Stage 1

The spots can present anywhere on the body and can even be on the inside of the mouth and in the genitalia area which can be very painful

The spots can spread to further areas around the body but sometimes stay localised to a small area

Depending on the tone of your skin you may find that some are red, pink or darker in colour and may be harder to see on brown or black skin

Stage 2

The spots become blisters and may be very itchy for individuals. They sometimes burst

Stage 3

The spots start to scab which can both be very flaky and sometimes leak a little bit of fluid

What should you do if you or your child gets chickenpox?

It is important to stay away from school, nursery or work place until all spots have scabbed over. This is often 5 days after the spots have initially appeared.

It is vital that you:

  • Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, if your child is struggling to drink fluids due to chickenpox in the mouth, try giving them ice lollies to cool the mouth down while trying to keep the child hydrated
  • Take paracetamol/calpol for children to help with any temperature or pain from the chickenpox
  • If your child is scratching, try putting gloves/socks on their hands to minimise them scratching at night
  • There are cooling creams or gels from pharmacies that are available over the counter, always ask your local pharmacist what soothing creams they have available 
  • You may also want to discuss antihistamines with the pharmacist if the itch during sleep is a problem, however antihistamines can cause side effects and cannot be used in babies 
  • While showering or bathing, make sure the water is not too warm and pat the skin dry, trying not to rub
  • While dressing, try to make sure loose clothes are worn to minimise irritating the spots
  • We advise avoiding ibuprofen unless you are told to take it by a healthcare professional. This is because a serious skin infection can be caused by taking ibuprofen
  • Avoid newborn babies, those who are pregnant, or those with a weaker immune system i.e. those who are receiving chemotherapy for example, as chickenpox may be a lot more serious for them 

Please speak to your GP for further guidance and potential treatment if your child has come into contact with chicken pox and they:

  • Are less than 1 month old
  • Have a poor immune system e.g. children with cancer or HIV
  • Are taking certain medicines like steroids or immune suppressing medicines
  • Have a severe skin condition

This is because they are at increased risk of more serious consequences from the virus.

Chicken pox is very contagious. The virus spreads in the air from person to person, so avoid people with chicken pox.  It can take between 7-21 days to develop symptoms after catching the chicken pox virus i.e. the incubation period.

If you have any questions about chicken pox, you can always ask your community pharmacist or GP.



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