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Care at Home

  • COOL BATHS: * For itching, give cool or lukewarm baths for 10 minutes as often as needed. * Caution: Avoid any chill. * Can add baking soda 2 ounces (60 ml) per tub. * Baths don't spread the chickenpox. * Do not use soaps. Reason: Soaps cause dry skin and make the itch worse.
  • CALAMINE LOTION FOR ITCHING: * Put calamine lotion on the chickenpox that itch the most. * You can also use an ice cube on the itchy spots for 10 minutes. * Don't use any lotion containing Benadryl in it. Reason: It can be absorbed across the skin. This can cause side effects in kids.
  • BENADRYL MEDICINE FOR ITCHING: * If itching becomes severe or interferes with sleep, give Benadryl by mouth. See Dose Table.
  • TRY NOT TO SCRATCH: * Try not to let your child pick and scratch at the sores. This can lead to infected sores. * Trim fingernails. * Wash hands often with soap.
  • FEVER MEDICINE: * Give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for fever above 102° F (39° C). * Never use aspirin. Reason: Risk of Reye syndrome. * Also, don't use ibuprofen. Reason: May increase risk of bad strep skin infections.
  • FLUIDS AND SOFT DIET: * The mouth and throat ulcers are painful. Try to get your child to drink adequate fluids. * Goal: Keep your child well hydrated. * Cold drinks, milk shakes, popsicles, slushes, and sherbet are good choices. * Solids. Offer a soft diet. Also, avoid foods that need much chewing. Avoid citrus, salty, or spicy foods. Note: Fluid intake is more important than eating any solids. * For babies, you may need to stop the bottle. Give fluids by cup, spoon or syringe instead. Reason: The nipple can increase the pain.
  • LIQUID ANTACID FOR MOUTH PAIN: * For mouth pain, use a liquid antacid such as Mylanta or the store brand. Give 4 times per day as needed. After meals often is a good time. Age: For children over 1 year old. * For children over age 6, can use 1 teaspoon (5 ml) as a mouth wash. Keep it on the ulcers as long as possible. Then can spit it out or swallow it. * For younger children age 1 to 6, put a few drops in the mouth. Can also put it on with a cotton swab. * Caution: Do not use regular mouth washes, because they sting.
  • FOR PAIN WITH PASSING URINE: * For girls with painful genital ulcers, put petroleum jelly on them as needed. * For severe pain, use a numbing ointment such as 2.5% xylocaine ointment. No prescription is needed. Use this 4 times per day. * For males with painful pox on the tip of the penis, this also works.
  • RETURN TO SCHOOL: * Your child can go back to school after all the sores have crusted over. * Most often, this is day 6 or 7 of the rash.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT: * Expect new chickenpox every day for 4 or 5 days. * Most children get 400 to 500 chickenpox. * They get less pox if they've had the vaccine.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Chickenpox look infected (draining pus, scabs become larger) * Gets any new chickenpox after day 6 * Your child becomes worse
  • PREVENT THE SPREAD OF CHICKENPOX IN THE OFFICE: * If your child needs to be seen, call first to the office. * Try to bring another adult. Have one adult enter the office first for instructions. * For nonurgent problems, the doctor may do an exam in the car.
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Chickenpox is caused by the varicella virus. * It's now uncommon because of the chickenpox vaccine. * Your job is to keep your child comfortable and to limit the itching. * Here is some care advice that should help.


The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
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