Our poor little angel has the Chicken Pox! I can talk until I’m blue in the face about all the theories about ‘better to catch them now’, ‘Use Oatmeal in the bath’ and countless conversations about ‘Where did she catch them?’, ‘Didn’t realise a baby could have them?’.
Yes!!! Lola is six months and a half months old and she’s got them. Those horrible red spots have covered our little girl completely. I’m writing this blog whilst this illness is happening. I wanted to keep an accurate diary and account of her fight against them to shed light on exactly what happens day by day (Hopefully this may help any other parents understand what to except and advice on how to cope).
When it started and the symptoms
On Friday I noticed she had a rather odd spot on the back on her head, it looked nasty and was forming into a white head. At the time I assumed it was a random spot or bite as there wasn’t any others and Lola was perfectly happy and healthy.
Later that day I noticed a small blister on her foot, again I dismissed this as a blister from her rubbing her socks, or when we’ve perhaps forced a pair of shoes on her too tightly. I mentioned it to my husband and agreed that this was nothing to worry about so thought nothing more of it.
Saturday morning Lola woke up again happy and normal, but when I changed her I noticed a few more very small red spots on her chest, foot and head. Strange? They didn’t look aggressive, they were spread out and didn’t seem to bother Lola at all. Bed bugs! It must be bed bugs (Our cat has been known to take the odd nap in her cot)
I striped her cot and washed everything. Cleaned the cot and aired out her room. Fresh sheets on the bed and all should be fine.
After her afternoon nap she definitely had a couple more, one near her eye and some more on her hands. I cleaned her toys and blankets and put Sudocream on the spots she had. She had maybe 8 or 9 of them so I wasn’t too worried. In the back of my mind I felt like it could have been chicken pox but my husband being so chilled out explained that it best to wait until tomorrow to see if she’s any worse to make sure it definitely wasn’t just a few bites.
Sunday. Wow! Lola was covered. The spots were everywhere and I counted at least 50 spots not including the very small pin-prick sized red marks. Chicken pox symptoms apart from the obvious spots often include a temperature, fever, loss of appetite and irriatable behaviour however Lola was absolutely fine. She appeared a little more tired than normal but this sometimes occurs with growth spurts so I hadn’t paid much attention to that.
Getting it diagnosed
I called the NHS111 number straight away and spoke to a lovely operator who ran through lots of questions: has she got a temperature? Is her breathing normal? Where are the spots, what do they look like?… after a ten minute back and forth questionnaire they said they would request that a nurse calls us back within two hours but they believed from my description that it was chicken pox. Sure enough 15 minutes later a nurse called me and confirmed it was chicken pox. Apparently it’s common for a baby to catch it from 3 months onwards but that if a child younger than one year contracts this virus it’s likely to be a mild form so it doesn’t necessarily mean she won’t catch it again. Great! It was a relief to know what it was and that it’s nothing serious but now we’re facing a good week long battle against these little bastards. It’s a good job I’m on maternity leave. Had Lola been at preschool or nursery she would have to be signed off for a week and kept indoors as it’s extremely contagious.
Getting chicken pox diagnosed can be tricky. Ideally you shouldn’t really venture out to the doctors or your GP surgery as it’s very contagious especially for newborn babies, elderly people and pregnant women. It’s likely to have been contracted two to three weeks before the spots appear, the spots are actually the end of the illness; which I didn’t realise.
The nurse explained that there was no cure or treatment for the chicken pox. You simply had to let it run its course and keep her well hydrated and fed. There are things you can do to help with any itching (Lola wasn’t suffering with this). Most people cover their child in calamine lotion from the get-go but it only helps with itching which tends to occur a few days in when the spots are drying out and healing. Other remedies such as running a bath with oats or bicarbonate of soda also help to reduce itching.
After having it confirmed over the phone we had a lazy Sunday indoors. Lola seemed to be fine just a little more tired. Every time she woke up from a nap she had more and more spots. By Monday she was covered!
Monday morning Lola looked terrible. The spots were everywhere, there was at least 150 spots at a guess. The older ones I noticed had started to blister. Apparently by day five all the spots should have appeared and we were on day four, how could she possibly get anymore!? The older ones had started to blister but the others were very red and looked so raw and painful. Her skin was all bubbly and I couldn’t help but tear up whilst getting her undressed that morning. I felt like I didn’t want to touch her and had to be so careful when moving or lifting her as these spots were absolutely everywhere.
The nurse explained that once the spot appears within a few days it should blister and then dry out or scan over. It’s not until all the spots have ‘healed’ in this way that Lola stops being contagious. Although Lola was itching and didn’t have a fever or temperature we decided to get calamine lotion. I felt like I had to do something, letting these spots consume every part of her skin didn’t seem right. At least applying some sort of ointment or cream would prevent itching and just help cover them.
That evening with my husbands help we got her in the tub (my poor baby was so brave, she looked terrible but was still smiling and splashing with her toys) after the bath I patted her dry and we proceeded to cover her in calamine lotion. We managed to get most of her chest, back and legs done before she screamed the house down (mainly because she was cold I think). Fresh new sleepsuits, nice warm bottle, dose of calpol and bed.
She didn’t sleep very well that night. Despite us doing everything we could she woke up every couple of hours with tears, I managed to soothe her back to sleep each time with a song or cuddle or both but she didnt sleep like we’d hoped she would. Sure enough Tuesday Lola was not well. She was very withdrawn and not herself, a little bit teary and over tired. She was covered in the calamine lotion from the night before (turns out calamine lotion is a bitch to get off) and definitely had a few new ones and some more that had blistered. Tuesday was hard she seemed very uncomfortable and upset at times when she wasn’t feeding or sleeping, she also had a blood shot eye. She became a little happier towards the end of the end and thankfully it seemed the spots had stopped multiplying.
Wednesday we definitely turned a corner. There didn’t appear to be any new spots and I would guess maybe half of them had now blistered or dried out. Lola seemed more herself but still tired, I noticed she had spots on her lip,tongue and gum which may explain why she wasn’t finishing any bottles and was struggling to eat any finger foods (toast, wafer).
Thursday she was a lot brighter and more awake. Spots were slowly clearing up especially on her chest, legs and belly. They were still bad on back and hands which had been the toughest place to apply calamine lotion which would suggest that it had worked. As the spots had really started to form on Sunday/Monday we decided to stay indoors one more day as she was likely to be contagious possibly.
Friday she was completely back to normal. All the spots had dried out or blistered and some had disappeared or stabbed over. Finally we ventured outside for a walk. It was lovely to get some fresh air and feel sane again. Being indoors for five days straight can start to send you a bit stir crazy.
In the days following her skin became clearer and clearer, she still had a few scabs and red marks but her skin felt soft to touch and she wasn’t irritated by an itch at all. On the following Tuesday we walked to our children’s centre (missed last week as she was in quarantine) we were seen by the local health visitor when Lola was weighed and mentioned the chicken pox drama to her, she looked Lola over and commented that there was evidence of quite a severe case of the pox so she was almost certain that Lola had experienced a significant form and was unlikely to catch chicken pox again. So that was good news and her weight was in the normal range on too.
Day 1 – Noticed the odd one or two blister-like spots.
Days 2 – 3 – More spots appear and baby seems more tired
Days 3-5 – Spots cover baby everywhere
Day 5 – Spots stop multiplying and older ones have blistered or dried out
Day 6 – Almost all stops have blistered, dried out, stabbed over and started to disappear
Day 7 – All spots are healing in some form, clear feels soft and not bumpy. Baby is no longer contagious
Days 8 – 14 – Spots slowly disappear, baby starts to regain any loss of appetite and their behaviour returns to normal.
The chicken pox was difficult to deal with overall, it lasts a long time compared to a sickness bug or cold. It has no treatment as such and can be frustrating to deal with. I hope that this blog post helps any parent deal with or know what to expect should your baby catch the chicken pox. The main thing to remember is that your child is likely to be contagious for the first five days so keep yourselves indoors if possible, keep your child hydrated, fed and comfortable and deal with each day as it comes.
Thanks for reading.