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Chickenpox (Varicella) - Home Treatment

Most healthy children, teens, and adults with chickenpox need only home treatment. But all teens and adults with chickenpox need to see a doctor. When given right away, treatment can help prevent serious complications.

If you have chickenpox, you don't need to stay in bed. But it's best to stay quiet and rest. Over-the-counter medicines can help relieve symptoms such as fever and itching.

Before you give medicine to your sick child, check with your child's doctor. Because of their small size, children are more sensitive than adults to the effects of some medicines. Use a measuring spoon or medicine cup to give liquid medicine to a child. Don't guess the amount or use a regular table spoon.

Reduce itching

The chickenpox rash itches. Do what you can to control the itch and avoid scratching. Scratching the blisters may cause a skin infection, or scars may form after the blisters heal.

You can take steps to control itching, such as taking oatmeal baths, applying cool compresses, and taking antihistamines. Check with your child's doctor before giving your child antihistamines.

actionset.gif Chickenpox: Controlling the Itch

Monitor fever

Fever is your body's normal response to infection. A higher-than-normal temperature kills bacteria and viruses that cause illness. Fever medicines stop this natural process, so use one only when fever is causing discomfort.

You can help relieve a fever with over-the-counter medicine. Follow the package instructions carefully. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's advice about what amount to give. (Do not give aspirin to people younger than 20, because of the risk of Reye syndrome, a rare but serious problem).

Call your doctor if you or your child has a fever that lasts longer than 24 hours.

For more information, see Fever or Chills, Age 11 and Younger or Fever or Chills, Age 12 and Older.

Prevent the spread of infection

If you or your child has chickenpox, don't return to work, school, or day care until after all blisters have crusted over, usually about 10 days after the first symptoms start. To help prevent spreading chickenpox, stay away from people who aren't immune.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 23, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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