The expert’s advice comes amid an uncharacteristic surge in chickenpox cases, as rates are usually lower during the summer months. Chickenpox is one of many vaccine-preventable diseases seeing a resurgence since lockdown measures were lifted. The varicella-zoster virus, which also causes shingles, usually causes fairly mild illness. However, the infection may be transmissible even before the first stage of the disease initiates, warned Doctor Zoe.
The illness can be contagious before the appearance of spots, the expert warned.
The expert shared alternative ways to treat outward symptoms amid a national shortage of calamine lotion.
Speaking on This Morning, Doctor Zoe said: “The tricky thing is, it can be contagious before the spots appear.
“For one to two days before the spots appear, it can be contagious, then it’s contagious for about five days after the spots have appeared.
“It has three stages. The first stage tends to be the spots that appear initially, then they become more like fluid-filled blisters, and in the third stage they scab over, and eventually, these scabs drop off.”
A child should be able to return to nursery or school once all their blisters have scabbed over, noted Doctor Zoe.
The expert added that children should avoid scratching their rash, as this could result in permanent scarring.
Covering the hands with mittens or socks at night time, and the use of cooling gels can help prevent this.
Antihistamines, namely Piriton tablets, have also been found useful in the treatment of chickenpox, although these can cause drowsiness, noted Doctor Zoe.
Alternatively, parents seeking a natural approach to ease their child’s symptoms could use porridge oats.
Doctor Zoe said: “You can buy colloidal oatmeal, which is finely ground, and put that into a bath. Or you can put normal porridge into a sock or pair of tights. When you’re running a bath, what I do is tie the sock around the tap. If the water turns cloudy, then you know it’s seeping into the bath.
“Then after the bath, you can dab it onto the spots, and leave it on there. If you can’t think of anything else, that’s something anyone can get hold of.”