Chicken Pox: Learn about Chicken Pox

What is it?

Chicken pox has a fancier medical name -- varicella zoster. It is a virus that infects the body, causing the typical illness.

What are the symptoms?

Most people know about the rash, but chicken pox starts out just like a common cold. Runny nose, sneezing, cough and fever are typical first symptoms of chicken pox. About three to five days later the rash shows up, looking like dots ranging from the size of an eraser head to about the size of a dime. Within each of these dots is a fluid-filled vesicle that may pop over the course of the following days. The lesions may be painful or itchy, or not be bothersome at all. They may be found anywhere on the skin, in the mouth, and within the vaginal area and even unseen within the penis. Because of this, it may be painful to urinate.

What can/should be done at home

Unfortunately, there isn't much that can be done to completely eliminate the symptoms once a child is infected with chicken pox. Therefore, treatment is geared to trying to alleviate the pain, itch and fever.

Fever: Because of the association of Reye's Syndrome and aspirin use during chicken pox, acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra, etc.) should be the only medication used to treat fever during this illness -- and it is fine to use the least expensive brand available. Be sure to give the proper dose for the age and weight of your child. A common cause of acetaminophen "not working" is the dose given is the same that was given to the child several months previously. If your child has grown a lot, the proper dose will have changed as well.

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