For most people, chickenpox is usually mild and requires only comfort measures. Treatments to improve comfort include:
To Reduce Itching From the Rash:
- Antihistamines are often given to reduce the sensation of itch. They often cause drowsiness.
- Warm, moist compresses may help.
- Warm 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 right away if severe complications occur. Serious symptoms associated with chickenpox that may require immediate medical attention include:
- Pus-like rash
- Sores in the eyes
- High fever
- Severe headache
- Confusion or unusual drowsiness
- Persistent vomiting
- Breathing difficulties or severe cough
- Chest pain
Chickenpox. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/chickenpox.html. Updated May 2010. Accessed May 30, 2013.
Chickenpox (varicella). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/. Updated April 25, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2013 by Michael Woods, 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 medical condition.
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