Xref: helios.physics.utoronto.ca misc.answers:874 news.answers:28811 Subject: Chicken Pox

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Xref: helios.physics.utoronto.ca misc.answers:874 news.answers:28811 Path: emory!not-for-mail From: vicki@mathcs.emory.edu Newsgroups: misc.answers,news.answers Subject: Chicken Pox FAQ Followup-To: poster Date: 7 Sep 1994 09:17:02 -0400 Organization: Emory University, Dept of Math and CS Lines: 541 Approved: news-answers-request@MIT.EDU, kids-info-request@ai.mit.edu Message-ID: <34kege$ju@octaman.mathcs.emory.edu> Reply-To: vicki@mathcs.emory.edu NNTP-Posting-Host: octaman.mathcs.emory.edu Archive-name: misc-kids/chicken-pox Posting-Frequency: monthly Last-Modified: 7/20/94 ====================================================================== Misc.kids Frequently Asked Questions Chicken Pox ====================================================================== Collection maintained by: Vicki Powers vicki@mathcs.emory.edu Last updated: 7/20/94 Copyright 1994, Vicki Powers. Use and copying of this information are permitted as long as (1) no fees or compensation are charged for use, copies or access to this information, and (2) this copyright notice is included intact. To contribute to this collection, please send e-mail to the address given above, and ask me to add your comments to the FAQ file on Chicken Pox. Please try to be as concise as possible, as these FAQ files tend to be quite long as it is. And, unless otherwise requested, your name and e-mail address will remain in the file, so that interested readers may follow-up directly for more information/discussion. For a list of other FAQ topics, write to: Diane Lin, dlin@weber.ucsd.edu or tune in to misc.kids.The list of questions asked for this FAQ are included at the end of this document. ====================================================================== Contents: I. Chicken pox in children and remedies II. Chicken pox in adults and the use of Acyclovir III. References I. CHICKEN POX IN CHILDREN AND REMEDIES ====================================================================== The best treatment is supposed to be Aveeno oatmeal baths in combination with Aveeno's Super Anti-Itch cream. Calamine lotion runs second to the Anti-Itch cream. Caladryl is usually not recommended due to the danger of an overdose of Benedryl (diphenhydramine) from absorption through the skin, although oral Benedryl is given. Studies have shown that Tylenol (acetaminophen) does not shorten and may lengthen the time it takes to recover, possibly by one full day. I'd use it anyway if it made the child more comfortable. Aspirin must not be given to children and teenagers suspected of having chicken pox due to the risk of Reye's syndrome. The patient is contagious from 24 hours before the first pock appears until one week after the last new spot has scabbed over. The incubation period is 7 to 21 days after exposure. There is approximately a 70% chance that a non-immune child will catch the disease if fully exposed. Paula Burch pburch@bcm.tmc.edu ====================================================================== Both my kids (2.75 and 1.5) got it at the same time this year (May 1994). My son was a day ahead of my daughter (the youngest) so I could tell what was coming with her since she had identical symptoms. By far the worse were the ones in their mouths. I made frozen juice pops which they seemed to like (no help on the pox, of course ;-). I used Aveeno baths, regular oatmeal (food processed and soaked in tub in old nylon) baths, aveeno anti-itch CREAM (not lotion) (BEST). Tried Benedryl with both but my normally average reacting kids both went bonkers and were up half the night. Calamine just annoyed them both...I think since mine are so young, they are fascinated with getting off pink stuff so it never stayed on long enough. One thing I did do (don't tell the kids!) is fill up the outside kiddie pool with slightly warm (from the hot water tap) water and then mixed in Aveeno oatmeal bath packets. Great trick! Played for 20-30 minutes whereas tub baths were fought after the first two each day. ;-) The really BAD times (days 2-6) were virtually sleepless for me and them, but on the 6th night they were both over it. They slept 15 hours that first night. I, of course, expected to have to wake up, so was up every hour. :-( -Cathe Gordon, cathe@ece.ucsb.edu ============================================================ When my kids had chicken pox, I used alternating Aveeno and baking soda baths. What might be a little different was I filled the tub with the Aveeno or soda then left the water in so my kids could hop in and out when ever they felt itchy. I need to say that my kids are 7 & 9 and are okay to leave alone in the tub; this wouldn't work with preschoolers. Morning was Aveeno, in the afternoon, baking soda, then Aveeno again. They would hop in for 5 - 10 mins., hop out, then back in again later. This seemed to keep them happier and was easier for me. Helen Gorman RGORMAN@MIAMIU.ACS.MUOHIO.EDU ====================================================================== My son had chicken pox when he was 16-1/2 months old, and his case was extremely mild. He had painful lesions in his mouth for about 1-1/2 days, but after they healed, the other pox on his body (they weren't as plentiful as I had expected) didn't seem to bother him at all. So, we spent about 2 days worrying, because he wouldn't eat or drink anything and was inconsolable except when watching Disney's "The Jungle Book". We must have seen that video 25 times during his 2 tough days. Absolutely nothing else would placate him! (Usually, he only gets to see one video per day, plus 1/2 hour of Sesame Street.) Anyway, the tough part was waiting for the scabs to dry out, which was the sign that he was no longer contagious. I think the chicken pox was worse for us than for him, since I got cabin fever long before he did! Oh, he weaned himself from the breast during his illness, since it was painful for him to suck; if he hadn't had chicken pox then, I have no idea if/when he would have decided to wean (he was down to only one morning nursing at that point). -- Diane C. Lin "Live now; make *now* always the dlin@weber.ucsd.edu most precious time. Now will (Dylan's mom, 2 years) never come again." (ST:TNG) ====================================================================== Spring the big bucks for the Aveeno Super Anti-Itch lotion, rather than calamine. It costs about $6 per bottle, rather than $1.50 for calamine, but it is WORTH IT! My son had a very bad case - about 75 pox on his head alone. The Aveeno lotion you just rub all over, rather than having to "dot" the pox. (In his case, it was almost the same thing, because the pox almost touched everywhere!) He healed much faster than his friend Emily, who had a lighter case. Even the ones on his palms and the soles of his feet healed quickly. The longest ones to heal, that bothered him the most, were the ones in his hair where we didn't rub the lotion. Diane Segelhorst dsegelho@oasys.dt.navy.mil ====================================================================== My 5yo just went through these at Christmas, and several of hers were around the vaginal area. By FAR the biggest difference was made by the oral Benadryl. She was psychologically addicted to the Benadryl with one dose! And this from a kid who hated to take medicine before, no matter how it tasted, and she didn't like the taste. It was a VERY DRAMATIC difference, there was almos no itching/pain left after Benadryl. YMMV... Anne Hill Wiebe * When in danger, or in doubt, Center for Space Research, UT Austin * Run in circles, (wiebe@emx.cc.utexas.edu) or * Scream and shout! wiebe@goliath.csr.utexas.edu *Mom to Elizabeth, newly six! ====================================================================== If you are using benedryl and it doesn't seem to work call your pediatrician and ask him/her about atarax. When my youngest had CP it worked wonders. Good Luck! Debby Mom to Ricky 11/28/74 and Destiny 8/1/82 ====================================================================== When my daughter got chicken pox in her vaginal area, we ended up using an anesthestic spray to kill the pain. I asked at the pharmacy, and they sold me a can. It was the same kind of thing women use after episiotomies. It helped kill the pain and the spray itself was very cooling. Jean Jasinski ====================================================================== Friends of mine have used a hemirroid cream that has an anesthetic. Preparation H does not. I think there is one called Anusol or something. That's what their doctor recommended. Makes sense to me. Marion Baumgarten MARION10@delphi.com ====================================================================== My pediatrician explained it to me this way: The severity of the case has something to do with the length of exposure. If the child is only exposed for a short period of time while the other child is contagious, they will have a lighter case. (ie, an hour playdate, or during sunday school, or a random grouping during school). A longer exposure will cause a more severe case. This is why the second and subsequent siblings to get CP usually have a worse case - they are exposed to a contageous child for hours or days. This was certainly borne out by our experience - Brad got chicken pox from his daycare buddy. Emily had a mild case and didn't need a lot of etra parental attention, so her Mom (my daycare provider) didn't mind having Brad come anyway. I figured he had already been exposed, so why not send him (rather than use my leave both while Emi was sick and when he inevitably got them.) Brad had a HORRIBLE case. Diane Segelhorst dsegelho@oasys.dt.navy.mil Mom to Brad, 3.5, and Carrie, 21 months ====================================================================== >From: lm3a+@andrew.cmu.edu Laura McGinnis at Accounts, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA JESSIESMOM@aol.com (585) Mickey (4 yrs) had chicken pox last week. Margee (21 months) is due to break out this Friday (great Easter, huh!). I have to thank the bboard, which was here for me last Sunday, to scan for support and suggestions, and Barbara White in particular for the best suggestion for dealing with this. She posted about the "oatmeal snakes" she made for her son. Figuring I'll be going through this twice, I cut the legs off an old pair of pantihose, filled each with a couple of cups of oatmeal, and tied the open end shut. Mickey used his in a warm bath every evening for 5 days. After his bath, I painted each spot with a little calamine lotion. He broke out on Saturday & was back to school on Friday, looking terrible, but feeling fine. He didn't scratch while he was contagious, but he has a tendency now to pick at the scabs. The ones on his body - that were painted with calamine - aren't bad, but the ones in his hair are pretty nasty. I'm taking a fairly stiff brush through his hair once or twice a day & that's helping to get the scabs out after they fall off. I have to confess that we did a very materialistic thing, too. On Sunday, when we were sure it was chicken pox, I went to the toy store & picked out a week's worth of small toys. I felt a bit guilty & indulgent, but the "new toy/day" did help keep him from scratching. I think distraction may be a big part of it. He didn't just lay around watching TV; when he felt like playing, he had some new goodies to play with & when he got sleepy he could rest. ====================================================================== >From: estier@galaxy.csc.calpoly.edu (Ellen Stier) Message-Id: <9403292121.AA00593@galaxy.csc.calpoly.edu> Well, first, good luck :) I'm sure you'll get lots of help, but here's my 2 cents, based on my sample of one (my son had chicken pox just after his third birthday). >1. It sounds like the scalp is the worst place to have the scabs. Would >anyone consider a crew cut before they come (I'd wait till he was >definitely sick to be sure). Our last babysitter was SHOCKED that >Nathan had never had a haircut/crewcut because, "you have to cut it to >make it come in thicker." (She's from Slovakia) So, maybe he should >get his first haircut now. He has such beautiful hair though :( I think is a typical YMMV issue. My son has medium length hair, very fine in texture, but lots of it. (Definitely not a crew cut, but also definitely not "long"). He had LOTS of scabs in his hair and I didn't even realize it until they started hardening and peeling off when I combed his hair. They didn't seem to bother him at all -- I never once saw him scratch his head. So, anyway, I would not get him a haircut now if you weren't planning on it anyway. I would also put off anything new and possibly "hard to deal with" until he's over the chicken pox. He may be pretty irritable for a few days! >3. Nathan got eczema last week and the Ped told us to use over-the-counter >hydrocortisone on the rash. This is for itching and burning. Why >haven't I seen it's use mentioned for chicken pox? The explanation I got for this is that it's too easy to overdose a small child with the amount it would take to cover all the open sores with chicken pox. We had adequate relief with a combination of oatmeal baths (the expensive Aveeno kind, I'm afraid) and letting him paint (warm) calamine lotion all over himself with Qtips. (I warmed it in the microwave because when it was cold and wet it really sent him off the deep end! I think his skin was hypersensitive by then). >4. Given that he has these eczema bumps all over him to confuse things, >what specifically should I be looking for as a first sign of C-pox? If Nathan really does have chicken pox, you'll be surprised in a few days that you asked this! The pox are truly "watery", as my books described them. You will look at them and wonder how come they don't just pop (then, of course, they will, and then the itchy part starts). Also, they seem to hit the torso first. The only other thing "I wish I knew" is that the pox on the face are the most likely to scar because there are so many bacterias present around your mouth and nose. My son John only has one scar out of lots and lots of pox -- right next to his nose. I thought it was because he kept running into it with his hand being around his face eating, rubbing his nose, etc., and picking at it. His pediatrician says it's because it was really a little infected because of the facial bacteria, and that's why it took longer to heal. Hope it goes well. *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-* Ellen M. Stier, Computer Science Dept. California Polytechnic State University estier@galaxy.calpoly.edu ====================================================================== ====================================================================== II. CHICKEN POX IN ADULTS AND THE USE OF ACYCLOVIR Acyclovir (Zovirax) can prevent a bad case of chicken pox in an adult. It *must* be started within twelve *hours* of the first symptom in order to be effective. If started prior to the first symptom, it can allow seroconversion (to chicken-pox immune) without a single symptom! This requires finding a sympathetic doctor. Acyclovir is an extremely safe drug as long as you drink a reasonable amount (or more) of water. There is no good reason not to give it to a chicken-pox-susceptible adult. Chicken Pox in adults is quite a serious matter, in comparison to childhood chicken pox. Complications requiring hospitalization are not rare. Okay, this is really not well known. We have one instance here where somebody, a scientist in the field, tried it and it worked. He had been proven to be chicken-pox-susceptible by a blood test beforehand. The bit about reducing the severity if taken within twelve hours of the first symptom is well-known and has been reported on in several journals, besides happening to a close friend of mine, and Kathleen Riggle's husband, Dave (both on my suggestion after doing a MedLine search). It is possible to test an individual's blood for immunity to chicken pox. This test may cost between $40 and $80. It might be worth it, especially for a pregnant woman who thinks she's never had the disease. Chicken pox contracted during pregnancy can harm the fetus, in perhaps 1 or 2% of all such cases. Acyclovir is not as useful in children, and is used only for children with immune problems. A chicken pox vaccine exists but has not been released. Chicken pox is not sufficiently dangerous in children to require one, and there is the fear that the protection may wear off by adulthood, leaving one open for a much worse case. Adult booster shots could presumably take care of this problem, but the last I heard, the vaccine was not being distributed except to children with immune difficulties. Paula Birch pburch@bcm.tmc.edu ====================================================================== I contracted chicken pox a year and a half ago. It was awful. It's much easier for children. I really envied my half-siblings, who got it from me, who got through it so much easier than I did. Personal complains aside, I was astonished to find how many people didn't know whether they had had it or not as children! (I phoned people to warn them, etc.) It turned out that all of them had, or at least they didn't catch it from me for some reason. The only people who caught it from me were my two brothers and my two half-siblings. Obviously, there was a correlation between my brothers and I all not having had it as children, and my half-siblings were of ages 5 and 3. The incubation period is something like two weeks, so don't jump to any false early conclusions that someone didn't get it. In Canada, the drug 'acyclovir' is used to soften the impact of chicken pox. I was prescribed acyclovir. I don't know if this is used elsewhere. Alan J Rosenthal ====================================================================== The drug is acyclovir. I'm taking it now since I'm recovering from chicken pox at the ripe old age of 42. My daughter came down with it three weeks ago. We put her on acyclovir too, since Lindsay suffers from a serious chonic disease. Lindsay was back in nursery school in 5 days, never had a fever and it didn't slow her down for a minute. I, on the other hand had 103 fever for 4 days, although I'm sure I would be much sicker without the acyclovir. By the way there is a blood test which will show if your husband has any immunity to varcella zoster. He might want to have it done, just to know for sure. I had the blood test a few years ago and it confirmed that I had no immunity. Marlene Stern mstern@lindsay.princeton.edu ====================================================================== We used Acyclovir with our twin daughters, and had extremely good results. However, it is somewhat controversial, and our story may be instructive. We had heard about its use (which must begin within the first 24 hours after the disease is in evidence) and so asked our HMO (Harvard Health) if they would prescribe it. The initial answer was that it only shortened the period of symptoms (true) and eased them somewhat (a lot, in our experience), and was expensive (also true), and so they do not prescribe Acyclovir. They offered to have the pediatrician on duty call, though, and when she did, after affirming that the drug is safe and has been around for a good while, we said we'd like to try it, and she agreed. We tend to be extremely conservative about the use of nonrequired drugs with out children, but the benefits, and the lack of danger, made it seem worth using. Yet another benefit, by the way, is that it severely restricts the potential for permanent scarring. All this began on Friday evening. On Monday morning we got a followup call from our very level-headed pediatrician, a woman we have a great deal of respect for. When she learned we had used Acyclovir, she hit the roof. She strongly opposes its use, for two reasons: it's a strong anti-viral drug (specifically, an anti-herpes drug--Chicken Pox being a herpes virus), and she felt without an extensive track record, it should not be used with children otherwise in good health. Secondly, it's not certain whether complete immunity will be conferred if the drug is used--it's likely that it will, but not yet proven. And you certainly don't want to get a second outbreak of Chicken Pox as an adult. With those objections in mind, we had to decide whether we would use the drug on our second daughter, who was guaranteed to get a (much worse) case ten days or so after her prolonged exposure to her twin sister. I looked up the research in the New England Journal of Medicine, where the first results were reported--both the report itself, and the rebuttal several months later. Having read it and thought about it, with some misgiving, we decided to use it on our second daughter too. Our reasoning went this way: even with treatment, our first daughter's case was bad enough--we didn't want to make our second daughter suffer through a triply worse case if not necessary. Secondly, we had given about half the dose that the study used, and it still clipped the course of the disease by at least several days, kept the period of fever much shorter, and stopped new eruptions by the end of the second day. More importantly, we figured that the long-awaited vaccine would answer any danger of second outbreak in adulthood if indeed there proves to be such a danger. Finally, we felt pretty confident the drug itself, especially in the doses we had used, is likely to be safe. Our second daughter indeed broke out with a very severe case (we stopped counting her chicken pox at 200, and there were areas that were so densely covered you couldn't tell where one ended and the next began). We used exactly the same treatment with her as with our first, and had the same results: the itchiness was not nearly so bad, the eruptions stopped very quickly, she felt bad for only about a day, very few of the spots, though many in number, even got bad enough to crust over, and she was completely well by day four. (The last of her spots were completely gone in about two or three weeks.) With a vaccine, none of this will matter for other parents before long; in the meantime, if you want to consider the use of Acyclovir, I'd just suggest you read the reports in New England Journal of Medicine yourself (I'm a complete lay person, and it's quite readable) and discuss it with your pediatrician in advance. Once your child's outbreak has begun, you won't have enough time to make a careful decision. --Alvah Davis abd0@gte.com ====================================================================== I don't have any experience with chicken pox in kids. But I would like to add some info for adults. My husband got chicken pox from work couple years ago (pre-kids). He had a mild case and was miserable with flu-like symptoms for a week. However, a friend of mine's two kids got it from day-care first. Then her husband got it and he was in so much pain she had to rush him to the emergency room. Apparently when an adult gets it, it can be internal as well as external. In her husband case, he got it inside his throat and stomach and he felt like "his chest is on fire". He had to live on Gatorade (sp?) only for a few days. Alice Wang Mom to Christine, 17 mo wang@optigfx.com ====================================================================== ====================================================================== REFERENCES: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ AUTHOR(s): Dunkle, L.M. TITLE(s): A Controlled Trial of Acyclovir for Chicken-pox in Normal Children. In: The new england journal of medicine. NOV 28 1991 v 325 n 22 Page: 1539 Note: there is likely a second NEJM article and it MAY be in this same issue ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ AUTHOR(s): Leardi, Jeanette TITLE(s): Chicken pox: Tips on handling this early spring malady. In: Parents' guide. (With Sesame Street Magazine) MAR 01 1991 Page: 38 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TITLE(s): Drug Clears Chicken Pox Spots: Doctors find a drug that can prevent disfiguring scars left over from chicken pox infections. In: Current science. NOV 02 1990 v 76 n 5 Page: 10 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ AUTHOR(s): Karlsrud, Katherine Schulz, Dodi TITLE(s): Birth to 1: Chicken-Pox Update. In: Parents. MAY 01 1991 v 66 n 5 Page: 186 -- Vicki Powers | When a student reads in a math book that there are no Emory University | absolutes, suddenly every value he's been taught is Dept of Math and CS | destroyed. And the next thing you know, the student Atlanta, GA 30322 | turns to crime and drugs. - Mel Gabler

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