What is Chicken Pox?
Chicken pox is a herpes-type viral disease characterized by small, red blisters called 'pox'. These sores become filled with a highly infective fluid and are incredibly itchy and irritable. After a couple days they erupt, crust over and form scabs. Other symptoms include fever and headache.
Chicken pox is highly contagious, especially among kids — making knowing how to treat chicken pox in children important. It is an airborne virus, easily spread through coughing or sneezing. There is an incubation period that lasts from 10 to 21 days in which there are mild or no symptoms at all, but the final days of this period are when an infected person is most contagious. This is why chicken pox usually affects whole classrooms of children at a time. Once a person contracts the virus, they are generally immune for life. The disease usually runs its course within one week.
The varicella zoster virus that causes the disease enters the body usually through contact with mucous membranes. It then attaches itself to host cells in the nose and around the lymph nodes. The virus reproduces at an alarming rate, and then spreads through the entire body, entering the blood stream, and finally infecting the skin. A fever often occurs two or three days before the pox sores form, signifying that the immune system has recognized a foreign pathogen and has begun fighting it off. Natural remedies for chicken pox boost the immune system, helping to speed the process of recovery.
For children, chicken pox is a troubling virus, but it rarely creates any severe problems. Still, it is important to give a child everything they need to heal naturally. The first step is cleansing. Make sure your child drinks plenty of water and fruit juices. Fresh lemon juice and a spoonful of honey mixed with water, three times a day, will help to rid the body of toxins and tone the kidneys.
A diet of easily digestible foods such as bananas, avocado, apples, and yogurt is the next step. Make a tasty yogurt smoothie. Blend one cup of strawberries with 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt and one tablespoon of wheat germ. Give your child plenty of vitamin C rich foods, including berries, kiwi, pineapple, broccoli, and cauliflower. Avoid dairy (except for yogurt) sugary and processed foods.
Herbs can also be used to heal your child naturally. Catnip and ginger are two powerful herbs to aid a fever. They are diaphoretic, which means that they encourage sweating, helping the body rid itself of infection. Burdock, an alternative, works by cleansing the blood and restoring vitality, and echinacea is a strong anti-microbial. Try a blend of any of these herbs, sweetened with molasses or honey. One cup a day is plenty for children.
Relieving Itchy Skin
Children naturally will want to scratch their chicken pox sores, no matter how many times you tell them not to. There are many natural ways to soothe itchy skin. Topically, lightly apply honey or wheat germ oil to prevent infection and help with healing. Dabbing licorice root tea with a cloth works well to reduce the redness and irritation. You can also sponge the infected area with an herbal infusion of rosemary and calendula.
Soaking in the tub is another way to relieve itchiness. Oatmeal baths are fantastic, they both nourish and moisturize the skin. You can also try a cooling/warming combination such as peppermint and ginger. Steep the fresh or dried herbs in the water for ten minutes before using, and then remove.
Once the disease has passed, apply vitamin A and E oil on the skin to help restore and prevent any scarring. It is also important to make sure your child is getting an adequate amount of these vitamins in their diet, as well as vitamin C and zinc to help balance the immune system after fighting off the virus.
Chicken Pox Vaccine
Today, for many parents, knowing how to treat chicken pox in children is as simple as taking a vaccine. In 1995 the FDA approved a vaccine for the chicken pox virus called Varicella or Varivax. It is highly effective, with most patients gaining immunity to the virus, or at least having very mild symptoms if they still do become infected. It is usually given once at around one year of age, and then sometimes again between the ages of four and six.
As the vaccine is relatively new, there still is the question of the long-term effects of vaccination rather than gaining immunity naturally. There is also concern for newborns, who would normally receive antibodies from their mothers via breast milk. Young girls today who take the vaccine probably won't pass those same antibodies on to their children.
How to protect your children from this virus is a personal decision, with no right answer. Fortunately, there are alternatives, simple natural remedies for chicken pox that help to heal and restore health. If your child does spend some time at home with the chicken pox, you have a few natural ways to make them feel better.
Balch, Phyllis. Prescription for Nutritional Healting, 4th Edition. (Penguin Group, 2006).
Hoffmann, David. The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies (Element Books, 1996).
Page, Linda. Healthy Healing, 11th Edition. (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
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