It is common in most states to require the Chicken Pox Vaccination (Varicella Vaccine) prior to entry into kindergarten. Some schools even require a second dose of Varicella prior to school entry or when the child is about eleven years of age. The Centers for Disease Control recommends 2 doses for your child. The reason for this is that after a few years the immunity (or resistance level) to the Chicken Pox Virus wanes (decreases) and your child has a higher chance of getting the Chicken Pox as an adolescent. One dose of the vaccine is just not enough to prevent Chicken Pox outbreaks. This article discusses what Chicken Pox looks like if you or your child is not vaccinated and what it may look like if your child is vaccinated but still seems to be ill with it.
Chickenpox is a contagious disease. If you or your child has been exposed to someone with the Chicken Pox your child may come down with it in 2-3 weeks from the date of exposure. Usually you get it once (but some people have gotten it more than one time). If your child was vaccinated his or her chances of coming down with it are less, but still possible. Maximize your child's chances of NOT getting the Chicken Pox by getting 2 doses of the vaccine.
Symptoms of Chicken Pox include: 1. A rash of a group of different looking lesions. Some will look like water filled blisters (pimple like), some red bumps and some flat bumps. The blisters will break open and turn dark in color/scabbed over. 2. Usually a fever, but not over 102 degrees. 3. Intense itchiness of the rash! 4. The patient doesn't feel well, a general malaise with possibly a runny nose and mild cough.
- Keep your child home until the lesions are all scabbed over and there is NO fever for 24 hours.
- Don't give Aspirin to your child! Use Acetaminophen or another medication recommended by your pediatrician.
- You may use calamine lotion to relieve the itching or place your child in a tepid bath and take a clean white sock, fill it with dried oatmeal and tie off the end of the sock. Use the oatmeal in the sock to sponge your child off. This will relieve the itching.
- Keep fingernails short and keep your child clean by bathing regularly.
- Don't take your child out and expose others. You do not want to accidentally expose an individual to Chicken Pox who does not have a good immune system. This could actually result in death or in the least severe illness!
- If your child has excessive vomiting, lethargy, high fever, infected sores, chest pain, etc. Immediately seek medical attention. If you aren't sure, call your doctor for advice!
If your child has had the vaccination, how can you tell if they have the Chicken Pox or not? Well, you actually might not ever know! Usually it Chicken Pox much more mild when it occurs in a previously vaccinated child. There may have a few red spots, maybe a few water filled blisters (or not) and a slight cold. I have seen quite a variety of presentations, all mild. These mild cases left us wondering whether or not it was the Chicken Pox. You can talk to your doctor, but the bottom line is that if your child has a rash and a fever they should stay home until no fever and no blisters!