The low-down on this common illness…
1 FACT: Chickenpox is spread through the air
Chickenpox is highly contagious because it’s an airborne disease that can be spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs. It’s infectious from around one to two days before the spots appear, and until they scab over — roughly five days.
2 MYTH: You need to keep siblings off school
It usually takes one to two weeks after being exposed to the virus to develop symptoms, but people aren’t infectious until a couple of days before the spots appear. So, it’s fine to send siblings to school until they start showing symptoms. However, keep them away from babies, pregnant women and the elderly.
3 FACT: You don’t always need to see a GP
In most cases, chickenpox is a mild illness with no need to see a doctor. But do seek medical advice if the spots become red, hot and painful. There’s a risk of dehydration, so look out for dark urine, few or no tears when crying, or dry lips. An ongoing cough and feelings of confusion are other symptoms to look out for.
4 MYTH: Calamine lotion is the best way to soothe the itch
Calamine lotion only provides a temporary cooling effect and can leave skin dry. Products like PoxClin CoolMousse relieve itching and minimise scarring.
5 MYTH: There’s no vaccine for chickenpox
While a chickenpox vaccine is routinely given in some countries, it’s not in the UK. Vaccinations are available from some private GPs or travel clinics. Two doses are required and prices start from £65 per dose.
From Dr Stephanie Ooi, a GP at MyHealthcare Clinic.