Diagnosis and treatment of chickenpox

Chickenpox is usually diagnosed by looking at the tell tale blisters and rash that chickenpox causes from and the sufferer’s medical history.

If there are blisters on the scalp, then this adds a lot of weight to the cause being chickenpox.

Blood tests, and tests of the pox blisters themselves, can confirm the diagnosis if there are any doubts.

If you suspect that you or your child has chickenpox, then contact your doctor as soon as possible to avoid the risk of developing complications or spreading the disease.

Chickenpox Treatment

Because chickenpox is caused by a virus, it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Like most viral illnesses, a chickenpox infection (in the vast majority of cases) can simply be left to run its course.

In most cases, it is enough to keep children with chickenpox comfortable while their own bodies fight the illness. Oatmeal baths in lukewarm water provide a crusty, comforting coating on the skin. Calamine lotion can also offer soothing relief from the itching. Oral antihistamines can help to ease the itching, as can topical lotions. Lotions containing antihistamines are also effective.

Even in developed countries, there are misguided and misinformed people who refuse vaccination for themselves and/or their children. To protect these foolish people, and visitors to your area from other countries who have not been vaccinated, contact should be limited until a medical diagnosis has been established excluding chickenpox, or 4 days have passed since the symptoms have passed.

If the child is scratching chickenpox blisters, then trim their fingernails short to reduce the chance of secondary infections and scarring.

Safe antiviral medicines have also been developed, and these can help the fight against chickenpox. However, to be effective, they must be started within the first 24 hours of developing the chickenpox rash. For most healthy children, these medicines are not needed.

Adults and teens, at risk for more severe symptoms, may benefit if the case is seen early in its course.

In addition, for those with skin conditions (such as eczema or recent sunburn), lung conditions (such as asthma), or those who have recently taken steroids, or those who need to take aspirin on an regular basis, the antiviral medicines may be a very important and effective treatment.

Some doctors also give antiviral medicines to people in the same household and who subsequently come down with chickenpox because their increased exposure often produces more severe symptoms.

WARNING DO NOT USE ASPIRIN. Unless instructed by your child’s doctor, don’t give aspirin to a child who has a viral illness since the use of aspirin in such cases has been associated with the development of Reye Syndrome a serious and potentially deadly encephalitis-like illness. Instead, acetaminophen and ibuprofen may be used safely.

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