Specific Nursing Care







Chickenpox usually occurs in childhood and confers life immunity against further attack.  The incidence is most common within the 5 to 10 year old age group.  However, the condition can also be acquired at any age – even up to sixties.  The course of the disease takes 2 to 3 weeks from incubation to recovery.


The infection is caused by the Varicella zoster virus.  A person who is coming down with chickenpox is infectious from a day or two before the rash appears until the last blister has crusted.  The extent of the rash varies from person to person. Some have only a few spots, while others have them all over the body.  The infection is spread through the air (via droplets in coughing and sneezing) and by direct contact with the ruptured skin blisters.  The person should remain at home until all the scabs have been sloughed off.


Although a single attack gives lifelong immunity, the virus does not actually leave the body completely.  It may remain dormant in the nerve tissues and reappear later in life as shingles.


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Signs and Symptoms of Chickenpox


The appearance of a rash is usually the first sign of chickenpox.


Fever and feeling of malaise (headache, backache, sore throat, weakness, etc) may occur for a couple of days before the rash appears.


Once the rash appears, new crops of blisters is expected over the next 3 to 5 days.


The rash of chickenpox begins as small, very itchy red spots and there may be a slightly raised temperature at this stage.


Spots usually appear on the front of the body and may then spread to the face, neck, behind the ears, upper arms and legs, and even inside the mouth in some cases.


Red spots become filled with clear fluid (blisters) within a day or so of appearing.


Scabs, which are the last phase of the pox, are formed 5 to 6 days after the blisters develop.  They eventually fall off after one to two weeks.


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Homecare Tips


If the temperature is raised, anti-fever medicine may be served to bring down the temperature and reduce discomfort.


Increase the intake of liquids to stay well hydrated.  The person should drink plenty of whatever appeals to him – plain water, fruit juice or milk.


Dab calamine lotion to the rash to give some relief from itching.


Frequent tepid bath helps to reduce the irritation and also soothe the pain.


After bathing, gently pat the body dry with a towel.  Do not rub.


Advise on NO SCRATCHING.  Scratching can cause the spot to become infected and hence takes longer time to clear than usual.  Furthermore, it  may leave permanent scars.


The person fingernails should kept short and clean during this phase of acute irritation.


Wear cotton gloves at night to prevent accidental scratching while sleeping.


Do not break a blister or peel off a scab before the new skin has formed underneath.  This can spread the viral infection, as well as causing secondary bacterial infection and scarring.  If a scab is extra-thick and refuse to drop off or skin begins to form around, soak in warm water to soften it.


Wear loose clothing that permits air circulation because a warm, moist environment fosters infections of all kinds.


Eat a well balance diet.


Provide foods that are cold, soft, and bland because chickenpox in the mouth may make drinking or eating difficult.


Keep the person away from the public places until all the blisters have dried up.


After the chickenpox has cleared, the areas where blisters have healed are more tender; the new skin can get burn and scar easily if not protected from the sun.  Apply a good sun block to protect the skin.



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