The Best Creams and Treatments for Chicken Pox

Oatmeal Baths and Tylenol Make this List

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

Because chicken pox is usually a benign self-limited 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 chicken pox. Learn about other antiviral drugs that help and the variety of ways to get relief from chicken pox with the tips that follow.

Acetaminophen Can Treat Symptoms

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 associated with chicken pox can be treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol), with doses determined by the weight of the patient.

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

Baths Are Calming

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

Lotions Can Provide Relief

The most common lotion used for chicken pox 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.

Why You Should Consider Antihistamines

Over-the-counter and prescription 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 helpful at night to help the patient sleep.

Other antihistamines such as loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra) can be used to control itching but do not cause drowsiness.

How to Prevent Scratching

Scratching increases the risk of secondary bacterial infections. All patients with chicken pox 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 chicken pox. 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 chicken pox. Oral acyclovir is more strongly recommended for children with underlying skin disease such as eczema, newborns, adults, and smokers since this group is at greater risk for complications. IV acyclovir is used for people with compromised immune systems.

Other Anti-Viral Drugs

Acyclovir (Zovirax) and Varizig (Cangene) are examples of FDA-approved treatments for chicken pox.

However, the antiviral medications valacyclovir (Valtrex), used to treat herpes simplex virus infections, have been shown to be effective for chicken pox and are often prescribed.

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