For most people, chickenpox is usually mild and requires no intervention, other than comfort measures. Treatments to improve comfort include:
To Reduce Itching From the Rash:
Antihistamines (diphenhydramine syrup or capsules) are often given to reduce the sensation of itch. They often cause drowsiness. Warm, moist compresses may help. Warm Aveeno (colloidal oatmeal) baths or baking soda baths may offer some relief. Calamine lotion is commonly used, but it is of unproven effectiveness.
To Avoid Infection From the Rash:
Avoid scratching as much as possible. Keep fingernails trimmed short. Gloves or mittens may be especially helpful for young children.
When to Contact Your Healthcare Provider
Contact your doctor or other medical professional immediately if severe complications occur. Serious symptoms associated with chickenpox that may require immediate medical attention include:
Pus-like rash (may indicate a secondary bacterial infection) Sores in the eyes High fever Severe headache Confusion or unusual lethargy Persistent vomiting Breathing difficulties or severe cough Chest pain
American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
The Long: Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 3rd ed 2008 Churchill Livingstone.
The Merck Manual of Medical Information.
17th ed. Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2000.
Last reviewed February 2009 by
David Juan, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a
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