Chickenpox (Varicella) - Medications
Most people can get the
chickenpox shot (vaccine) to help prevent
chickenpox. The shot doesn't fully protect you right
away. But you'll become
immune to the virus with a little time.
Antiviral medicines may be an option after you start to have
symptoms of chickenpox. These medicines do not prevent or cure chickenpox, but
they can help shorten its course and make it milder.
Immunoglobulins can be given to help protect you from
getting chickenpox after you have been exposed to it. But these medicines
can give only short-term protection (up to 3 months).
have symptoms of chickenpox, you can use oral
over-the-counter medicines to help relieve discomfort.
Check with your child's doctor before giving medicine to your child.
Vaccination to prevent chickenpox
chickenpox, most people can get the
chickenpox vaccine(What is a PDF document?). Two doses are needed before exposure to the virus.
If you are exposed to
chickenpox and you get the vaccine within 72 hours (3 days), you may not get
sick or your illness may be mild. If you can't get the shot within 3 days,
getting it up to 120 hours (5 days) after exposure may still help.2 Some people can't get the chickenpox vaccine,
including women who are pregnant and people who have ever had a serious
allergic reaction to gelatin or the drug neomycin.
Medicines to help reduce the severity of chickenpox
- Antiviral medicines, such as acyclovir. Antiviral medicine is usually used to treat
adults and people who have
impaired immune systems. Healthy children usually
don't need this medicine when they have chickenpox. It is not known
whether antiviral medicines reduce a person's chances of having
complications of chickenpox.
- Immunoglobulins (IG). Immunoglobulins help the body's
immune system recognize and destroy harmful bacteria
and viruses in the body, such as the varicella virus. To prevent
infections, IG can be given to
pregnant women or people who have certain immune system deficiencies. Immunoglobulin is usually taken from the blood of people recovering
from an illness. The protection
provided by an IG injection lasts about 3 months. IG
for chickenpox must be given before a rash appears.
Medicines to relieve pain and discomfort from chickenpox
- Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen
(such as Advil) to control pain and fever. Follow the package instructions carefully. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's advice about what amount to give. People over
age 20 also can take aspirin to reduce fever. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of
antihistamines to relieve itching, such as Benadryl or
Vistaril. Talk to your doctor before using any antihistamine lotions or creams
on yourself or your child. And check with your child's doctor before giving
antihistamine pills to your child.
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