Lotions and Treatments for Chickenpox

Calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, and antihistamines make this list

Oatmeal baths can help relieve itching caused by chicken pox.
Maximilian Stock Ltd./Getty Images

Since chickenpox is usually a benign disease, treatments and creams are typically aimed at treating symptoms and making the patient more comfortable. In some cases, the antiviral medication acyclovir may be used to treat chickenpox. Learn about other antiviral drugs that may help and the variety of ways to get relief from chickenpox with the following tips.

Acetaminophen 

Patients with chickenpox typically have viral-type, prodromal symptoms such as a headache, fever, fatigue, and muscle aches.

These symptoms can make the other signs of the disease, such as itching, feel even worse. Luckily, the viral symptoms that are associated with chickenpox can be treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol), with the dose determined by the weight of the patient.

Children should never be given aspirin or medications containing aspirin for chickenpox or any other viral illness because of the risk of Reye's syndrome.

Calming Baths

Frequent baths are sometimes helpful to relieve itching. Adding finely ground (colloidal) oatmeal such as Aveeno can help reduce itching. Oatmeal baths can also be prepared at home by grinding or blending dry oatmeal into a fine powder and then adding about two cups to the bath water. One-half cup to one cup of baking soda may also be added to the bath water to decrease itching.

Lotions 

Looking for an effective chickenpox lotion? The most common lotion that's used to treat chickenpox is calamine lotion.

This or any similar over-the-counter preparation can be applied to the blisters to help dry them out and soothe the skin.

Antihistamines

Over-the-counter and prescription oral antihistamines may be used to control severe itching. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is available over-the-counter and hydroxyzine (Atarax) is available by prescription.

Both of these antihistamines cause drowsiness and may be useful at night to help the patient sleep more comfortably. Other antihistamines such as loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra) can be used to control itching but do not cause drowsiness—so these are good daytime options.

How to Prevent Scratching

Scratching increases the risk of secondary bacterial infections. All patients with chickenpox should have their nails trimmed short. In addition, small children may have to wear mittens to reduce scratching.

Why Acyclovir Helps

Acyclovir (Zovirax) is an antiviral drug that may be used to treat chickenpox. In uncomplicated cases, acyclovir taken five times a day has been shown to cause shorter periods of new lesion formation, fewer lesions, and more rapid healing. But this typically happens only if the drug is started within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of the rash.

Acyclovir has not been shown to decrease the rate of complications in otherwise healthy children who get chickenpox. Oral acyclovir is more strongly recommended for children with an underlying skin disease such as eczema, newborns, and smokers. Intravenous (IV) acyclovir is used for people who have compromised immune systems.

Other Antiviral Drugs

Acyclovir (Zovirax) and Varizig (Cangene) are examples of FDA-approved treatments for chickenpox. The antiviral medication valacyclovir (Valtrex), which is used to treat herpes simplex virus infections, has been shown to be effective for chickenpox and is often prescribed.

Continue Reading