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    General Health
    1234 · 20 min read

    Doctor's Corner: Chicken Pox & Scarlet Fever Explained

    UK Meds sat down with Dr. Alexis Missick MBChB. MRCGP to ask common questions customers ask us about the health conditions chicken pox and scarlet fever.

    Chicken Pox FAQs

    Below are a selection of frequently asked questions that we asked Dr Alexis related to Chicken Pox.

    Chicken Pox

    How can I soothe my child if they have chickenpox?

    If your child has chickenpox, the pain and discomfort can be relieved using paracetamol, and antihistamines may reduce itching (NHS Inform, 2023). Make sure to use medications suitable for children. Using wet or cold compresses, bathing in cool water, or using oatmeal bath products can also help reduce itching. Cooling creams or gels from the pharmacy can also help to soothe blisters.

    It is also important to make sure that your child gets plenty of fluids, either by drinking water or having ice lollies if they are not drinking enough (NHS, 2021). Cutting your child’s fingernails and putting socks on their hands at night should help stop them scratching, which would worsen the itching (NHS, 2021).

    Can a parent of a child with chickenpox pass it on?

    If a parent does not catch chicken pox and has had the virus before, or is vaccinated against it, it is unlikely that they could pass it on to other people. If a parent hasn’t had chicken pox, they should stay at home as they could become infected and pass chickenpox on to others (Paediatr Child Health, 2005). It is also advisable to avoid people with reduced immune systems. 

    Can a sibling of a child with chickenpox go to school?

    If the sibling hasn’t had chickenpox or the vaccine, it is very likely that they will catch it too, as the infection rate is very high (Chickenpox Aware, 2024). Because of this, it is advisable to follow the same rules in terms of how long they are likely to be infectious. However, this may be down to the parent or school’s discretion and whether they are showing symptoms. Following good hygiene and handwashing guidance is always advisable. 

    Can grandparents look after a child with chickenpox?

    If the grandparent has had chickenpox before, or received the vaccine, they are very likely to be immune to the virus. This means that they would likely not be at risk of catching chickenpox when looking after a grandchild with it. However, if they are vulnerable in other ways, such as having a weakened immune system, it may be best to avoid contact.

    Should you keep a child indoors with chickenpox?

    If your child has chickenpox, you should keep them at home and limit their contact with other people until all of the chickenpox blisters have formed scabs and no new blisters are appearing (Which, 2023).

    Scarlet Fever FAQs

    Below are a selection of frequently asked questions that we asked Dr Alexis related to Scarlet fever.

    Scarlet Fever

    How can I soothe my child if they have scarlet fever?

    If your child has a sore throat, drinking cool fluids and soft foods can help soothe them. Taking painkillers like paracetamol can also reduce temperatures. Calamine lotion or antihistamine tablets can also be used to reduce itching (NHS, 2021).

    Should a family isolate if a child has scarlet fever?

    You should keep your child at home until they’ve been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours and are no longer considered contagious (NHS Oxford University Hospitals, 2022). The family of a child with scarlet fever should take precautions such as practising good hand hygiene and avoiding close contact until the contagious period has passed.

    If possible, it may be best to stay at home to care for your child until they are no longer contagious, but this may depend on your circumstances and employer. 

    Can a sibling of a child with scarlet fever go to school?

    If a sibling of a child with scarlet fever has not displayed symptoms and hasn’t been diagnosed with the infection themselves, it is likely safe for them to go to school (GOV.UK, 2024). I would recommend monitoring them for any signs of scarlet fever. If they begin to show symptoms, they should see a doctor and be kept at home. 

    This may also depend on the school’s policies. Precautions such as practising good hand hygiene and keeping the sibling away from the child with scarlet fever should be followed.

    Can my child go to school with a scarlet fever rash?

    Your child can spread scarlet fever to others until 24 hours after they have had their first dose of antibiotics (NHS Inform, 2023). If they don’t take antibiotics, they are infectious for 2 to 3 weeks from their symptoms starting. A rash from scarlet fever usually takes around 7 days to fade. The most important thing to consider is the antibiotics timeline, instead of the presence of a  rash as this affects how long they are infectious for.

    Can a child catch scarlet fever twice?

    People can get scarlet fever more than once, and having scarlet fever does not stop a child from getting it again in the future. However, it is rare for people to have scarlet fever more than once (NHS Inform, 2023).

    Medically Reviewed by:
    Dr. Alexis Missick MBChB. MRCGP
    GMC reference no: 7151419

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