What are the Different Methods of Chickenpox Treatment?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Chickenpox treatment can be discussed in different ways. Prevention of the virus through vaccination is the preferred way to handle this illness. Doctors can also recommend home care tips to decrease discomfort for those with mild to moderate symptoms. Additional medical steps might be suggested for those having a serious course of the disease. Chickenpox treatment also means treating for any complications like infection and avoiding anything that might place people at increased risk for other problems.

A boy with chickenpox.
A boy with chickenpox.

The varicella vaccination recommended as part of the immunization schedule of most children. Though many people who contract chickenpox have relatively minor illness, the disease can lead to complications, even including death, or very serious illness, in a small percentage of people. The varicella vaccination can protect against the virus being able to take root in the body, where it can then re-express itself as shingles in older adults. Most healthy people are able to get this vaccine and are thus spared deciding what to do for treatment after they have the illness.

A girl with chickenpox.
A girl with chickenpox.

Another chickenpox treatment is based on the vaccine. People with very recent exposure to chickenpox are sometimes retroactively protected with the vaccine. If someone who has never had chickenpox has just been exposed to someone who has the condition, doctors might recommend vaccination immediately. This may prevent an outbreak or lessen its severity.

Oral antihistamines may be used to reduce itching and inflammation associated with chickenpox.
Oral antihistamines may be used to reduce itching and inflammation associated with chickenpox.

Those people who do get varicella tend to have chickenpox treatment principally based on reducing discomfort. Fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but never aspirin for those under 21, might be recommended. Calamine lotion or soaks in oatmeal baths can help reduce itch, as might common antihistamines like diphenhydramine in cream or oral form. It’s recommended that people get plenty of rest and eat relatively plain foods to avoid upsetting the stomach.

Choosing to vaccinate against chickenpox can protect against the illness and thus alleviate the need for treatment.
Choosing to vaccinate against chickenpox can protect against the illness and thus alleviate the need for treatment.

Sometimes a course of chickenpox is severe or occurs in someone who has other illnesses that make him or her more vulnerable. Based on individual circumstances, doctors might decide that additional chickenpox treatment is needed. One intervention is antiviral drugs to work on reducing illness severity and duration. Medically vulnerable people and pregnant women should seek medical advice if they get this virus, as additional treatments including possible hospitalization could be recommended.

There are several complications of the varicella virus. Each of the pox runs the risk of becoming infected. As part of chickenpox treatment, doctors suggest inspecting the rash and speaking to a doctor if there is pus, or unusual warmth or tenderness. Antibiotics are used to cure infections.

Another chickenpox treatment advisory exists in the use of pain relievers or fever reducers. Combination of varicella-zoster virus and use of aspirin in people under the age of 21 is linked to the very serious and life-threatening Reyes Syndrome. This is why aspirin shouldn’t be given to kids with chickenpox, and why it’s avoided for treating children at most other times.

Aspirin should not be taken by anyone under 21.
Aspirin should not be taken by anyone under 21.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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