Parent's First Aid Guide: Handling Chickenpox with Care
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Parent’s First Aid Guide for Chicken Pox

Because of the chickenpox vaccine, chickenpox (varicella) is much less common in the United States than it once was. However, if someone gets chickenpox, the infection and rash that it causes go away on their own. Chickenpox is communicable and can easily transmit from person to person. A child infected with the virus should remain at home until the rash has completely crusted. 

Preparing yourself to handle a medical emergency by learning first aid is the best thing to do as a parent. You can learn first aid through the First Aid certification course offered by the American CPR Care Association. Our First Aid program is meant to provide parents with fundamental First Aid skills that will enable them to act wisely in an emergency. First aid for chickenpox doesn’t involve heavy medication. 

Common Symptoms of Chickenpox 

The classic chickenpox rash can be identified by paying attention to the changes on the skin. It begins with a rash of small red bumps that resemble pimples or insect bites. They appear in waves over 2 to 4 days, then develop into fluid-filled thin-walled blisters. The blister walls rupture and expose open sores. These sores eventually crust over to form dry, brown scabs. As mentioned, chickenpox rash appears in waves, therefore all three stages (red bumps, blisters, and scabs) of the rash appear on the body at the same time.

The chickenpox rash usually appears on the stomach, back, or face. Then it spreads to almost every other part of the body, including the scalp, mouth, arms, legs, and genitals.

Symptoms in kids can vary. They can have:

  • fever and chills
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • belly ache

Treatment of Chickenpox

In the case of mild chickenpox, the treatment typically doesn’t go beyond resting and managing the symptoms. In some cases, antihistamines are prescribed by doctors to lessen itching. Medicines to treat skin infections are occasionally needed.

If the symptoms prolong then consult a doctor and get medical care. Reach out for medical care for your child if:

  • your child has a persistent cough or breathing issues
  • your child has a patch of the rash that appears infected – it is red, warm to the touch, or leaking pus
  • your child appears noticeably sleepy or confused
  • your child appears very sick or weak
  • your child has trouble swallowing liquids

First Aid for Chicken Pox that Parents Should be Aware Of

To help relieve itching:

For the first several days, apply cool wet compresses or take mild showers every 3–4 hours. Drugstores and supermarkets both carry oatmeal bath solutions that can help with itching relief. The rash does not spread during baths.

  • Pat the body dry. Do not rub.
  • Apply calamine lotion to itchy regions; avoid using it on the face, particularly close to the eyes.
  • Inquire with your doctor or pharmacist about genital sore pain relief lotions.
  • Consult your doctor before using an over-the-counter (OTC) itching medication orally.

To stop scratching:

  • To prevent scratching while sleeping, cover your child’s hands with mittens or gloves.
  • Trim and maintain clean fingernails.

If your kid’s mouth is covered in blisters:

  • Chickenpox in the mouth can make it difficult to drink or eat. Offer cool, soft, bland meals. Avoid foods like orange juice and pretzels that are acidic or salty.
  • Give acetaminophen to your child to help with pain relief.

Top 3 FAQs on Chicken Pox Asked By Americans

  1. What is chickenpox and how is it caused?

Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection. It is mostly known for causing a blister-like rash that appears all over the body. The rash is usually accompanied by a fever, body aches, and fatigue.

Chickenpox spreads through the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks, and the virus is then inhaled by others. The virus can also be spread through direct contact with the fluid from the blisters or by touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.

Once a person has had chickenpox, they are generally immune to it for life, but the virus can remain dormant in the body and later reactivate as shingles.

  1. What are the symptoms of chickenpox, and when do they appear?

The symptoms usually appear 10-21 days after exposure to the virus. The symptoms of chickenpox include:

  • Rash: A blister-like rash that is itchy and spreads all over the body, starting on the face, scalp, and trunk.
  • Fever: A low-grade fever that lasts for 2-4 days.
  • Fatigue: A  general feeling of being tired or unwell.
  • Loss of appetite: Decreased appetite and difficulty eating.
  • Sore throat: A sore throat that can be accompanied by a cough.
  • Body aches: Aches and pains in the muscles and joints.
  • Headache: A headache that can be severe.
  1. How is chickenpox treated and is there a vaccine available to prevent it?

Chickenpox is usually a self-limiting illness and treatment is generally supportive. Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help with pain and fever, and oatmeal baths may soothe itchy skin. Bed rest and fluid intake are important for recovery.

There is a vaccine available to prevent chickenpox. It is called the varicella vaccine and is given in two doses, typically the first at 12 to 15 months of age and the second at the age of 4 to 6 years. The vaccine is highly effective in preventing chickenpox, and in cases where a vaccinated individual still contracts the virus, the illness is usually milder and of shorter duration.


When chicken pox affects healthy children, it is usually mild. When it affects high-risk populations, such as pregnant women, newborns, unvaccinated children, teenagers, and adults, it can result in more serious illnesses or problems. With the knowledge of first aid, you will be able to help your child more effectively and give first aid for chickenpox confidently. Enroll with the American CPR Care Association  today!


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