Coping with chickenpox is never easy but it’s especially difficult during the warmer months. I remember Danny having chickenpox during a particularly hot summer, in fact we first noticed his pox spots while he cooled down in his little paddling pool. These are the tips that I discovered to help you and your little ones cope with chickenpox in the heat:
Diagnosing Chickenpox in the Heat- Is it Chicken Pox or a Heat Rash?
In hot weather parents and care givers can sometimes confuse a virus such as chickenpox with a heat rash. Here’s how you can tell the difference:
What does a heat rash look like?
A heat rash appears as tiny little red bumps or blisters on the skin when your child is too hot. They often sting or feel prickly.
What does chickenpox look like?
Chickenpox causes crops of red spots which turn into small, fluid-filled, itchy blisters that break and then scab over.
Chickenpox is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily between children. The NHS point out that it’s more common between March to May so be extra vigilant during this time.
Chickenpox is often diagnosed once the spots appear and begin to blister. However be aware that the most poorly part of the illness for your children actually comes before the spots. You may notice that your child appears under the weather and then once the spots appear you realise why!
Symptoms of Chickenpox
In order to be prepared, these are the symptoms to look out for before the spots appear:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Feeling sick
- A high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or over
- Aching muscles
- Loss of appetite
During a heatwave children often complain of a headache and loss of appetite due to being too hot so if your child is experiencing these symptoms then look out for a rash appearing behind the ears, on the face, scalp, chest and belly and arms and legs. If they don’t appear then your child may be suffering from heat stroke so treat accordingly.
Treatment for Chickenpox in the Heat
There is no cure for chickenpox but treatments can help to relieve the symptoms. There is no need to visit the GP if you can treat the child at home. Children do need to be kept off school and in quarantine until all the spots are crusted over and no longer contagious.
Plenty of Fluids
If your child has has had a loss of appetite or a fever then they will be losing fluids so give them plenty of water to replace the lost fluid.
Avoid the Sun
It’s best to avoid the sun during a chicken pox infection and soon after because the skin is more prone to bring burned. Sun exposure can increase the risk of scarring. Heat and sweating will also make the pox itch more so if you do take your child outside put them in a shaded area.
Keep the Cool
Sponge your child with cold water to keep them cool. Some children like to sit in a cool paddling pool in the shade- put lots of fun toys in to keep their mind of the spots!
Alternatively playing with toys in a bowl of cool water can lower the body temperature and help children feel more comfortable too.
Homemade ice lollies and ice cubes are refreshing on a warm day.
If your child has a fever, you can give them some infant paracetamol (see pack for correct dosage). If their fever is above 39℃ seek medical advice.
Prevent Itching and Scratching
Chickenpox is itchy but it’s important not to scratch as it can cause infection and scaring. Here are some ways to avoid this happening:
- Keep nails short and clean
- Pat the skin instead of scratching
- Wear cotton gloves or scratch mitts
- Bathe in lukewarm or cool water (some children find oatmeal baths soothing)
- Wear loose, smooth cotton clothing
- Use smooth cotton sheets
- Distract kids with games, puzzles, kids TV
- Ask your pharmacist to prescribe a drowsy antihistamine
- Use a cooling gel or spray (such as ViraSoothe) to soothe the skin
Watch this video by Dr Sarah Jarvis for more tips:
Have any of your children had chickenpox during a heatwave? What are your tips to keep them calm and cool?
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