Chickenpox, like taxes, is an inescapable reality of life. Most people are familiar with the childhood illness that brings with it itchy bumps on the skin and a general feeling of being unwell. The good news is that this disease is generally not serious. It is caused by a virus called Varicella Zoster that infects human nerves. The rash and itching are as a result of the body’s immune reaction.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease but it generally resolves in a few weeks. And once you’ve been infected and showed symptoms it is highly unlikely for it to happen again in your life. The question is how do you survive the severe itching of chickenpox or get yourself and your children to not scratch? Here are a few home remedies to try:
Before continuing, please note that this article does not constitute medical advice and you should see a doctor for a diagnosis and management plan of chickenpox. Ask your doctor about these treatments before trying them to ensure they do not interfere with your other medications.
Some doctors will prescribe antihistamines to reduce the itching and pain relief medications such as acetaminophen (known as paracetamol in other parts of the world). They will possibly also prescribe antiviral medications like acyclovir. In most cases, these medications aren’t even necessary depending on the severity of the infection.
In children, it is highly recommended to avoid giving aspirin due to a not-so-fun interaction between the infection and the aspirin which causes a disease known as Reye’s syndrome.
Calamine lotion is the mainstay of treating any condition that causes itching in the skin. It contains an ingredient called zinc oxide which has some great anti-inflammatory properties. It is available over the counter and is very safe. It can be applied multiple times a day, but shouldn’t be applied around the eyes.
Bath in baking soda
Baking soda has been known to have soothing properties when added to the bath water (about 1 cup in a moderately filled bathtub). Soak for 15 to 20 minutes and pat dry instead of rubbing vigorously. It’s good to keep the skin clean and wash the rash gently to remove dried out papules.
There isn’t much use to drinking chamomile to soothe chickenpox (unless it just makes you feel better, as chamomile tea generally does) but you can brew a pot then apply the lukewarm liquid to affected areas of skin using cotton pads. Chamomile tea has many antiseptic and anti-inflammatory compounds in it that can improve the skin’s recovery.
This is probably the crudest and funniest way to manage chickenpox, but mittens stop the affected individual from scratching the rash and making it worse. At night, you can wear both mittens and socks to stop sleep-scratching, but this may be difficult in warmer months.
Some other things to note
Chickenpox is mainly a disease of childhood. In fact, it’s a good sign if your child gets chickenpox because that means they will not contract it as an adult (which is more severe). There is a rare possibility of chickenpox reemerging in adulthood as shingles, which can be treated in a similar way. This is not necessarily because a new virus is reinfecting, but actually because those years old viruses you thought were gone have come up to say hello again. In any case, Varicella is not a particularly harmful organism and just requires a bit of patience to recover from.