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Chickenpox

Chickenpox is caused by a varicella zoster virus, a member of the herpes family. People rarely catch chickenpox twice, however, the virus hangs around in nerve endings and may become reactivated later in life as shingles, a painful rash, usually after a stressful event. Chickenpox is very contagious, spread by sneezing or coughing (at the onset of the infection) or contact with blisters (after the rash appears). After blisters heal the patient can no longer transmit the disease. From go to whoa, a bout of chickenpox lasts around 10 days. Chickenpox is a self limiting condition, it will resolve given time, however, symptoms such as fever and the itchy rash can be eased by natural remedies. Chickenpox was a relatively mild childhood illness that is much less common since routine vaccinations were instigated in Australia around 2006

Information on the side

An old and persistent theory in traditional medicine is that early childhood conditions such as the measles, chickenpox and mumps are transition processes, important to the child’s physical, psychological and psychic development and should not be ‘suppressed’ by immunisation. One explanation says that the fever and rash of chickenpox, for example, are eliminations of ‘toxins’. Further, it is also said that if these run-of-the-mill childhood illnesses are suppressed via vaccination, the elimination of toxins is also suppressed, and may return many years later in a more insidious guise. I’ll admit this sounds like eye-of-newt mumbo-jumbo, but it would be nearly impossible to scientifically measure the effects of vaccination 30, 40 and even 70 years after the event. No doubt the immunisation controversy will continue and there are arguments for both sides of the debate.

What causes it?

  • Chicken pox is a viral infection, one easily transmitted

Symptoms

  • Chickenpox starts with a sudden onset of cold like symptoms, a runny nose and fever.
  • The fever coincides with a rash that affects both skin and mucous membranes, such as inside the mouth.
  • Within 36 hours the tell-tale poxy spots appear, looking a little like watery blisters. These spread from the trunk to the face, scalp and limbs. These pox are intensely itchy.
  • Headache, loss of appetite and fatigue are also common symptoms.

What To Do

The following suggestions are appropriate for children as well as adults. If fever is severe, particularly for children, seek medical help.

Diet

  • A light diet is best, soups and broths, steamed vegetables, white fish or chicken breasts. Boiled or poached eggs.
  • Keep fluids up as the fever of chickenpox can be dehydrating.
  • Fruit and vegetable juice
  • Barley water, lemon and honey
  • Avoid coffee, sugar, alcohol and hot spicy foods.

Remedies

  • Traditional herbal teas to manage fever include Lime flowers, yarrow, elder and peppermint.
  • Take the tissue salts Ferrum. phos. and Kali. mur., one of each hourly during the fever.
  • Vitamins C and A, zinc, echinacea, cat’s claw and andrographis will help the immune system recover, and prevent a secondary bacterial infection. Take these for one month after the illness.
  • Take some antiviral herbs throughout and for a week or so after, to assist in recovery such as echinacea, astragalus, cat’s claw, St John’s wort.

Other

  • Avoid overly hot showers and baths.
  • A cool bath or cool sponge with several drops of peppermint oil will reduce fever.
  • The following things can be added to a cool bath or sponge bath (half the amounts for a sponge bath of 5 litres) to ease the insane itching – a cup of apple cider vinegar, a cup of bicarbonate of soda, 8 drops each of lavender and chamomile essential oil.
  • An oat sock made from one cup of oats to a sock or sockette, tie off the end, add to the water use the creamy and calming liquid instead of soap.
  • Wear loose fitting cotton clothes.
  • Rest as much as possible.
  • Make sure fingernails are cut short, and resist scratching as much as possible to reduce infection and scarring. Wear cotton mittens or gloves to bed to reduce scratching overnight.
  • Earl Grey tea bags, used and cold, placed on the spots will soothe and heal.
  • Witch hazel lotion (available from chemists) dabbed on the spots will help relieve the itch and dry the spots.
  • Calendula, chickweed, tea tree, aloe vera gel and lavender are all helpful for itching and healing. Use as cream or lotion.
  • Vitamin E oil (pierce a capsule), applied after the spots have dried up, will help prevent scarring. Don’t apply the oil onto open sores.

Aromatherapy

  • 5 drops of avender – analgesic, sedative, soothing, calming.
  • 4 drops of roman chamomile – comforting, analgesic, sedative, temperature reducing.
  • 3 drops of cajeput – analgesic, antimicrobial, antiseptic, fever reducing.
  • 2 drops of tea tree – antiviral, immuno-stimulant.
  • 2 drops of peppermint – analgesic, anti-itch, antiviral, cooling.

Add to the bath water for relief and a soothing soak. This mix can also aid in reducing temperature. Use 5 drops of lavender with 2 drops of ea tree in 10ml witch hazel and use as a spot treatment.

At a glance

Diet

  • Keep hydrated. With barley water, fruit and vegetable juices.
  • Eat lightly. Steamed vegetables and for protein – chicken breast or white fish or eggs.
  • Avoid coffee, sugar, alcohol and hot spicy foods.

Remedies

  • Herbal teas to help manage a fever include Lime flowers, yarrow, elder and peppermint.
  • Herbs to help you over the virus include echinacea, astragalus, cat’s claw, St John’s wort.

Other

  • Rest as much as possible.
  • Keep cool by sponging with water and a few drops of peppermint oil.
  • To ease the itching add to a bath one of the following; a cup of apple cider vinegar, a cup of bicarbonate of soda, 8 drops each of lavender and chamomile essential oil.
  • Calendula, chickweed, tea tree, aloe vera gel, lavender are all helpful for itching and healing. Use as cream or lotion.
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