All about chicken pox

Chicken Pox is a very contagious (catching) disease. It causes small itchy blisters on your skin, fever and headaches, and is most common in pre-school children. Here's what you need to know:

·       Chicken pox is very contagious and there is no cure except time - but you only get it once

·       Early symptoms are flu-like, followed by blisters on the body

·       You may only show symptoms of Chicken Pox 10-21 days after being exposed to the virus

·       It can be dangerous for very young babies or people with ongoing health issues 

·       Visit your doctor if you or your child is drowsy, vomiting a lot or has a very high fever (38°C or over for children, 37.8°C or over for adults)

·       Children can be sick with Chicken Pox for 5-10 days, adults can be sick for 3-7 days. Stay at home to prevent the spread

Immunisation is offered by most GPs and is free for some people. Check your eligibility here. The vaccine protects most people from chicken pox, and everyone from severe chicken pox, but is not suitable if you are pregnant, could be allergic to the vaccine or have an immune deficiency condition. Please consult your GP.

If you cannot be immunised for any reason, there are still many ways to defend against chickenpox:

·       Washing your hands with an antibacterial soap regularly during the day, especially before eating or preparing food and after doing the laundry

·       Stay away from others who are sick unless you are their carer

·       Maintaining good general health by eating plenty of fruit and veg, keeping the house warm and clean, ventilating your bathroom and changing your bedclothes regularly

Tips for carers:

·  Stop your kids from scratching by placing socks over their hands. Broken blisters could become infected

·  Soothe the itching by bathing in warm water with four tablespoons of baking soda. Repeat every 3-4 hours. Use an antibacterial soap once a day, and a clean towel every time. 

·  Calamine lotion is available at your pharmacy to help with itchy blisters. Follow the directions on the bottle or from your pharmacist.

If you or a family member has any of the following symptoms with chickenpox, see your doctor or call an ambulance immediately:

High fever
Severe headache
Sensitivity to light (light hurts your eyes)
Nausea and vomiting
Stiff neck
Sleepiness, difficulty waking or unconsciousness
Convulsions (fits, seizures).

Call Healthline 0800 611 116 if you are unsure what you should do.