Understanding Chickenpox -- Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is extremely contagious. Keep your child home until all of the blisters are dry and scabs have fallen off.

Most cases of chickenpox require little or no treatment beyond treating the symptoms.

The prescription drug Zovirax (acyclovir) is helpful in shortening the duration of chickenpox symptoms if given within a day of their appearance. Most experts agree that this drug and those like it should be used for children with chickenpox infections that involve the lungs and/or brain. For less severe infections, some doctors recommend use of these drugs while others don't.

Varizig is an FDA-approved drug for children and adults with weakened immune systems, newborns, pregnant women, premature infants, children less than a year old, and adults with no immunity to the chickenpox virus. Varzig is given in two or more injections, depending on the weight of the recipient, within 96 hours after exposure.

In addition, your doctor or pediatrician may recommend an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Benadryl or Zyrtec, to relieve pain, itching, and swelling. Antibiotics are called for if a secondary bacterial skin infection arises or if the person with chickenpox contracts bacterial pneumonia.

Home Remedies for Chickenpox

  • Trim your child's fingernails or cover her hands with socks or mittens to keep her from scratching, which could lead to infection as well as to possible scarring.
  • To ease itching, add a handful of oatmeal or baking soda to bath water. Apply cool, wet towels to the skin and allow them to dry.
  • Dab calamine lotion, any other perfume-free lotion, on the lesions to relieve itching.
  • Leave your baby's diaper off as much as possible to allow the vesicles to dry out and scab.
  • Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and use as a gargle to ease mouth sores. For older children, Chloraseptic lozenges or sprays contain a mild anesthetic.
  • Give Tylenol for fever; aspirin should NOT be given to children with chickenpox because it raises the risk of Reye syndrome, a disease that can cause brain swelling and liver damage, often in children ages 6-12.
  • Keep sores clean by washing daily. Apply lotion afterwards.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 19, 2017


World Health Organization.  
March of Dimes.  
Centers for Disease Control. 
Cohen & Powderly: Infectious Diseases, Elsevier, 2nd ed., 2004.
News release, FDA.

© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.