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Treating chickenpox in children

Most children with chickenpox recover after a week of symptoms appearing, without needing to see a GP.

You can treat your child at home by:

  • follow advice on how to deal with a high temperature
  • giving them plenty of fluids - it is important they do not become dehydrated
  • dressing them in light clothing such as cotton - to keep them cool and reduce itching
  • bathing them in cool or lukewarm water - remember to pat their skin dry, don’t rub
  • putting socks on their hands at night to stop them from scratching
  • giving them child paracetamol - to reduce pain and high temperatures
  • keeping their fingernails short - to avoid them damaging their skin from scratching

Blisters in the mouth

If your child has blisters in their mouth, they might be sore there and not want to eat or drink. Don’t give them any salty or spicy foods that could hurt their mouth. Ice lollies can be a good way of getting fluids into your child if they are not drinking.

Medication to treat chickenpox

You can also speak to your pharmacist about medications to treat your child’s symptoms, such as:

  • a soothing cream or gel - to reduce itching
  • sedating antihistamines - to reduce itching and help children over one year old to sleep

Never give ibuprofen to someone with chickenpox unless advised to do so by your GP or paediatrician. This may cause a serious skin infection.

Never give aspirin to children under the age of 16.

Sometimes antiviral medication may be prescribed to treat chickenpox. This may be recommended for:

  • babies younger than 1 month
  • children with diseases or taking medicines that affect their immune system
  • children with heart or lung diseases
  • children with certain skin conditions

This medicine needs to be taken within 24 hours of the spots coming out. This is why it is important to contact your GP urgently if your child is in one of these risk groups.

Complications

Complications of chickenpox are rare in healthy children. These can include:

  • skin infections - when spots or blisters become infected with bacteria. Antibiotic medicines or cream may be needed if this happens
  • lung infections - like pneumonia.
  • inflammation of the brain

page last reviewed: 14/05/2019
next review due: 14/05/2022