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5 Ways to Handle Chicken Pox

Chicken pox lasts only a week or two, but generally the end can’t come soon enough. If pain is the problem, ease it with acetaminophen – never aspirin. If the itching is too much of a bear to bear, try cool baths and an antihistamine such as liquid Benadryl. And have a few other tricks to keep up your sleeve to minimize the misery.

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1. Stop the Itch

Swab on some calamine. This over-the-counter lotion, made mostly of zinc oxide, helps by drying up the blisters.

Try bergamot oil. Bergamot, which is derived from a citrus fruit closely related to the orange, is often used to flavor tea. But it has also been used for centuries in Italy to dry chicken pox blisters and relieve the itching. Bergamot is composed of 11% to 22% alcohols, which have a soothing, drying effect. Add 10 to 20 drops of bergamot essential oil to a carrier oil (such as olive oil, sweet almond oil, etc.) and mix well. Then apply to blisters.

If the itching is bad, give your child an oral antihistamine such as Benadryl. Just be aware that it might make her drowsy.

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2. Treat Chicken Pox of the Mouth

If your child has chicken pox in his mouth (yes, it can happen), have him gargle with salt water.

Give him ice pops. They can be soothing.

Feed him bland food like Jell-O, soups, and bananas as long as the blisters are painful.

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3. Keep Cool

If it’s winter, turn down the heat to the lowest comfortable temperature. In summer, use air conditioning. Heat brings more blood to the skin, which exacerbates the itch.

Soak your child in a tub of slightly cool water for 15 to 20 minutes every few hours. Don’t use soap. Instead, add one-half cup of baking soda to a shallow bath or one full cup to a deep bath to provide extra relief. Colloidal oatmeal (such as Aveeno) added to a bath also counteracts itching. If you don’t have colloidal oatmeal, place regular oats in a nylon stocking, tie the end, and place the stocking in the water.

Offer your child a cool, wet washcloth to press against her skin when she feels like scratching. Scratching can lead to infection and scarring. By using the washcloth, she’ll satisfy the scratching urge without doing any damage. For insurance against scratching, keep her nails trimmed, and put her to bed with cotton gloves on her hands.

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4. Avoid Irritating Fabrics

Keep him in fresh cotton PJs. Cotton is less irritating than other fabrics. Make sure they have long sleeves and pants to discourage scratching.

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5. Preventing Chicken Pox

You can protect your child from chicken pox with a vaccine called Varivax, recommended for children one year and older who are in good health. The same vaccine is effective in adults who have never had chicken pox.

If your child has not been vaccinated, you can prevent infection by keeping him away from other children who have chicken pox – but that may not be advisable. It is far better to get chicken pox as a child. The virus is much more serious in adults.