Is your child safe from chickenpox?

Chickenpox is an infection not worth ignoring. Usually chickenpox is mainly known in children and it can be spread from one person to another. Experts explain that the infection can start with a fever, headache, sore throat, or stomachache for some days before the rash appears.

Dr Stephenson Musiime, a Pediatrician at GLAMERC Polyclinic, Remera, says that chickenpox is caused by a Varicella Zoster virus.

Signs and symptoms:

He says that if a child feels general body weakness, body pains, loss the appetite for food, gets nausea (sensation of an urge to vomit) and fever, then it is a symbol that they suffer from chickenpox.

“These signs and symptoms occur between one to two days before developing a rash, which spreads all over the body, the rash looks like blisters and are itchy,” Musiime states.

He adds that signs and symptoms are worse in small children, elderly people, pregnant women and those with immune compromised (low immunity).

According to WebMD, chickenpox is generally gentle, especially in children though in severe cases, the blisters can spread to the nose, mouth, eyes, and even genitals. Symptoms appear within ten to twenty one days after being in contact with someone who has the virus, most people recover in about 2 weeks,

Dr Raymond Awazi, a pediatrician at Hôpital La Croix du Sud in Kigali, states that chickenpox is spread through direct contact with an infected person or by contaminated air. It comes in form of itching, rash on the trunk then spread to the scalp, the upper and lower limbs with or without fever.

Who is at risk?

Musiime further says that all people are at risk except infants below three months since they are protected by the immunity from their mothers.

When to see the doctor

Experts say that if your child develops breathing problems, becomes weak, feels drowsy, gets on and off headaches which even worsen at times even if they take medication, cannot eat due to a severe rash in the mouth, if the rash becomes severe or gets bruises, you should seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

“See the doctor when symptoms appear especially if high grade fever is present, abdominal pain and vomiting,” Awazi notes.

He carries on that chickenpox can lead to superimposed bacterial infection, bronchopneumonia, and neurological complication.


Awazi says that you should immunise children, especially between 12 to 18 months and between 19 months and 12 years, for those who missed. This can help prevent chickenpox.

He adds that you should vaccinate or use gamma immunoglobulines,  especially for the immune compromised persons.

“Chickenpox is symptomatic, you should control fever with paracetamol, apply calamine lotion to the affected areas in order to reduce the itching, there may be some other complications which may need other medications like Acyclovir, especially in immune compromised and antibiotics if there are bacterial skin super infections, ”Musiime says.

“Keep fingernails short to avoid deep scratching, dress children comfortably so they are not cold or overheated, use cool smooth fabrics such as cotton, give the child paracetamol if a child develops fever,” Awazi cautions.

“Tylenol can help relieve pain associated with sores that develop on your skin or in your mouth. However, for children over two months old, they should avoid anti-inflammatory painkillers, like ibuprofen because they can make you very ill if you have chickenpox, aspirin is also not good for children under 16 years as it can lead to a serious complication called Reye’s syndrome,” WebMD


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