Chicken Pox in babies – Effects, treatment and vaccine
WHAT IS CHICKEN POX? It is common in childhood and it is infectious but it is mild. It is not as serious as small pox. In rare cases, chicken pox may lead to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
CAUSES: It is an air-borne disease and is caused by a virus.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
1. At first, the child gets a mild fever and body ache.
2. Tiny red spots appear on the chest, abdomen and back.
3. After that the spots appear on the face, arms and legs.
4. The first blisters start drying up and scabs form. As the scabs form, new blisters appear.
This cycle repeats itself for three or four days. Hence you may see the rash in all its forms at one time- red spots, flat of raised dry spots, blisters and scabs. Blisters may at times appear in the mouth eyes and over the genitals.
TREATMENT: Because of persistent itching and skin irritation, your child may scratch and open the blisters which may become infected. Local application of calamine lotion soothes the itching. Antihistaminic or antipruritic drugs and sometimes mild sedatives are given to relieve itching and discomfort.
The child’s nails should be kept short so that he doesn’t scratch himself.
His clothes and bed linen should be changed daily. Lightly add potassium permanganate to his bath water to prevent the blisters from getting infected. Neem leaves, boiled and cooled can also be used as an antiseptic in his bath water.
MEDICATION: The child may be given a paracetamol preparation like crocin for relief of headache or fever. Children below 16 years should not be given Aspirin as it could lead to complications.
A safe and effective (but expensive) vaccine for protection against chicken pox is available. A single dose is given by injection to children from the age of 12 months to 12 years.
ISOLATION: Doctors these days allow children to rejoin school after seven to ten days. A lot of schools do not want to take the risk of other children getting infected or an epidemic starting. They request parents to keep their children at home for the full 21 days.
Also isolation of your child is recommended if:
- There is another child in the family who is less than one month old.
- There is a terminally ill person in your home.
- There is a pregnant woman in the house.
In that case, these people should be injected with an intramuscular injection VZIG(immune globulin), so that they don’t get infected with Chicken pox.