“Mummy, I don’t feel so good,” my first-born said to me recently. Her body felt feverish and her complexion pale.
My stomach began to churn as I realised the possibility of what she was about to experience. Within a few hours, red bumps started forming all over her body. It was official. She caught the chickenpox – every parent’s current worry.
Towards the end of July, many of my child’s kindergarten schoolmates came down with the same ailment.
School was out of session for a day, to disinfect from a fresh new outbreak of chickenpox which swept the school grounds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) that can cause itchy, blister-like rashes among other symptoms.
The rash first appears on the chest, back and face, then spreads over the entire body.
Chickenpox has the potential to cause significant complications, particularly when it occurs during pregnancy, infancy, adolescence, adulthood, or in individuals with compromised immune systems, leading to reduced ability to combat infections and illnesses.
It’s important to note that some of the accompanying symptoms of chickenpox may appear before or after the rashes and these include a high body temperature, discomfort and a general sense of illness, alongside a decreased appetite, aches and pains.
This illness would also generally last about four to seven days.
While there are over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol to help counter the fevers you or your child may encounter during chickenpox, I’ll share some possible home remedies I’ve tried on being shared by friends and family.
As a parent, I’ve discovered the value of having a supply of calamine lotion readily available at home.
Consistently, everyone I’ve spoken to agrees that this lotion is among the essentials they’ve relied on when dealing with instances of chickenpox.
Why? The lotion contains skin-soothing components like zinc oxide, which is commonly employed to manage or avert minor skin issues such as burns, cuts, and – naturally – diaper rash.
Sometimes chickenpox can also appear inside your mouth, and after it infected my second child, I found that popsicles helped soothe the sores. If you’d like, you can experiment with creating homemade popsicles using sugar-free ingredients to manage the amount of sugar your child consumes.
I additionally heard from a co-worker that his parents gave him a cup of ginger tea to him every few hours during his bout with chickenpox to alleviate the sores in his mouth and the fever he experienced.
One of my mummy-friends also shared that bathing your child in an oatmeal bath would also lighten the itchiness.
Although there are bath soaps available containing oatmeal and are designed to treat skin conditions like eczema, these products may not be budget-friendly for everyone. However, you can create your own oatmeal baths using plain instant oats, rolled oats, slow-cooked oats, or quick oats.
Simply grind the oatmeal into a fine powder, transfer it into a muslin bag (or pantyhose stocking if that’s much more readily available to you), and immerse it in warm bathwater until it completely dissolves, creating a milky hue. Soak in the bath for no longer than 20 minutes.
The same mummy-friend also told me that neem leaves are much better (and safer) at combating chickenpox on the face for little children as it’s organic.
It’s naturally used for a variety of skin diseases, septic sores and infected burns.
Sadly, it’s difficult to find in Brunei as it grows in tropical regions such as India, and unless you have someone who can supply it to you, it’d be a chore to scour through the markets here.
As the days passed, my first-born’s chickenpox continued to run its course.
Despite the discomfort and itching, we tried our best to keep her comfortable using the remedies and methods I had gathered from friends and family. The calamine lotion provided some relief.
The red bumps on my first-born’s skin gradually dried up and scabbed over, a sign that she was on the path to recovery.
She was eager to return to school and see her friends, and as a parent, I felt a sense of relief that she had successfully navigated through this common childhood illness.
I just have to make sure to repeat the steps so my second child recovers as fast as her older sister. – Izah Azahari