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How is chickenpox treated?

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Treatment options for chickenpox include antiviral medications for high-risk patients, antihistamines for itch relief and home remedies such as oatmeal or baking soda baths, according to Mayo Clinic. Chickenpox in otherwise healthy children normally requires no medical treatment and is allowed to run its course.

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Patients with a high risk of chickenpox complications may choose to take the antiviral drug acyclovir or immune globulin intravenous, which lessens the severity of the illness when administered within 24 hours of onset, confirms Mayo Clinic. Other antiviral medications, including famciclovir and valacyclovir, are only approved for adult use. Patients of all ages should never take aspirin during a case of chickenpox, as the combination may be related to the occurrence of Reye's syndrome. If secondary infections such as pneumonia or skin infections occur, antibiotics may be necessary.

To relieve itching, patients can try soaking in colloidal oatmeal baths or applying calamine lotion to affected areas, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trimming fingernails is also important, as excessive scratching of blisters can lead to infection. Other home remedies for chickenpox include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, a soft diet for sores in the mouth and baking soda added to a cool bath, adds Mayo Clinic. Parents should check with a doctor before giving antihistamines to children.

Some people who develop chickenpox, including individuals over 12 years of age, pregnant women and individuals with a weak immune system, require the care of a doctor because they are at risk for serious complications, explains the CDC. Contacting a doctor is advised if any person with chickenpox experiences confusion, stiff neck, difficulty walking, breathing problems or a fever lasting more than four days. Symptoms of bacterial skin infection, which include skin that is red, warm, tender or draining pus, also require a doctor's care.

Chickenpox, a disease caused by the varicella zoster virus, is very contagious and spreads through coughing, sneezing, touching or inhaling the virus contained in chickenpox blisters, according to the CDC. Common symptoms of chickenpox include fever, fatigue and red, itchy blisters. Chickenpox can be prevented by receiving two doses of the chickenpox vaccine, which is available for children and adults. Vaccinated individuals may still get chickenpox, but they typically experience milder symptoms.

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