April 17, 2009

Symptoms, Causes & Treatment for Chicken Pox In Infants

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Chicken pox is a viral infection that affects mostly children; however, it has also been known to affect adults. The infection manifests as itchy fluid-filled blisters all over the body. Chicken pox has become less prevalent since the introduction of chickenpox vaccine.

Chickenpox Causes and How it Spreads

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, a member of the herpes family that causes shingles (herpes zoster) in adults. It is very contagious and can spread by touching the chicken pox sores (particularly when they are raw and oozing) or through sneezing and coughing. Infants are most susceptible to chicken pox due to weakened immune systems, and if your baby is in the vicinity of anyone who has chicken pox, the risk of him/her getting chicken pox is that much higher.

Chicken pox spreads from one infected person to another. A person is said to be contagious before the blisters appear and until the scabs form. In general, chicken pox does not affect infants less a year old, if their mothers have had chicken pox or have been vaccinated for chickenpox. Even if infants at this stage do get infected, it is very mild and need not cause worry. This is due to the antibodies present in the mother’s blood protects them. In other cases, wherein mothers have not received vaccination or have not had chicken pox, the infection can get severe.


If a baby gets infected, it takes 14 to 21 days for the symptoms to show. As mentioned earlier, your infant will be contagious from two days before the rashes appear until the blisters dry up. It is thus important to keep your child at home for this period of time.

Chickenpox causes red itchy rashes that break into blisters within few hours. They first appear on the face, and soon spread to the mouth, stomach, chest, and other parts of the body. It could be just a few spots to many that run all through the body; the sores can be painful. They can be even more painful and uncomfortable when they appear on the scalp, mouth, throat, and genitals.

The rashes are often accompanied with body ache, headaches, fever, nausea, sore throat, and loss of appetite.


As chickenpox is a viral infection, it does not respond to antibiotics, though antiviral drugs are prescribed to avoid secondary bacterial infections. When a person has chicken pox, the immune system is weakened considerably as the body tries to fight off the infection. This makes a person even more susceptible to secondary infections. Medicated lotion or calamine lotion is also prescribed along with paracetamol to soothe the blisters and relieve pain. It is best not to self-medicate your child, and to consult a doctor for proper medication. While calamine lotion and paracetamol may be prescribed, other medication is bets avoided. Additionally, it is best not to give your child aspirin as it can trigger a condition called Reye’s syndrome, which can be life threatening.


Chickenpox vaccination is given for infants at 18 months according to the vaccination schedule. Even if your child has had chicken pox as an infant, it is better to get him/her vaccinated as the virus tends to stay dormant in the spinal column and can later cause shingles in adulthood.

What about Scars?

Chicken pox in infants do not often leave scar unless there is secondary bacterial infection. You can use mittens to prevent your infant from scratching the blisters. Keep your infant’s nails short to avoid constant touching and/or scratching. In case of scars, apply cocoa butter or vitamin E oil to lighten the scars.

Care During Chicken Pox

Chicken pox heals on its own, but care can be taken to make it less painful and uncomfortable for your infant. Here are some guidelines that can help.

  • If your infant is above three months, you can give paracetamol to relieve pain and fever, based on the doctor’s advice. Let the dosage be according to the prescription.
  • It is essential to give the infant plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Give your infant more milk (breast milk or formula milk), and if you have introduced solids, you can give the baby water. If your child is little older, you can give him/her juices, buttermilk, and coconut water as they cool the body. Carrot, pomegranate, and litchi juices are effective in treating chicken pox in infants.
  • It is best to dress the baby in loose cotton clothes to keep the body cool and abate itching. Also, keep your infant in cool and clean environment to avoid heat and humidity that can aggravate itchiness.
  • Wash your infant’s clothes and bed linen in hot water and separately to avoid spreading of infection.
  • Lukewarm water baths help cool the body. Powdered Neem leaves or fresh leaves can be added to the bath water as Neem is an effective antiseptic.
  • If your child has been introduced to solids, avoid spicy food, and instead give healthy soups that will help boost the immunity of the child.


  1. www.health.nsw.gov.au/factsheets/infectious/chickenpox.html
  2. www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/about/transmission.html