Chicken pox is a common infectious and highly contagious disease of children. It occurs more frequently in cooler weather. Children between the ages of five and nine are most commonly affected and account for 50 per cent of all cases. Other cases occur between the ages of one to four and 10 to 14 . Infants under six months seem to have some immunity against this disease. In most cases, the older the child, the more severe the attack.
Chick pox usually begins with a low grade fever, a mild headache, loss of appetite and a feeling of weakness. Then rashes appear on the skin, first as tiny red spots, mostly on the upper back or chest. In more severe cases, rashes may also appear on the face and lower extremities. The spots turn into blisters which finally become pustules and form scabs, which fall off.
Lesions come in successive crops, so that some are drying whilst otehrs are begining to form. The extent of the rash varies from child to child. Some children have only a few spots, while others are covered in them in the mouth, ears and nose, as well as over most of the body limbs. The skin is cleared after a few days and the child feels well again. The duration of this disease ranges from 10 to 21 days, but is usually between 14 to 17 days.
Chicken pox is caused by a virus and there is no immunisation available against the disease at present. In children, it is a comparatively mild illness, so it is good to succumb to the infection in the early years. An attack of this disease in an adult can be quite severe.
Chicken pox spreads by contact with persons suffering from this disease. It can also spread by inhalation of dust contaminated by dried scabs. The real cause of the disease, as in most cases of childhood fevers, however, is persistent wrong diet followed by children, leading to a natural health crisis.
The child-patient should be kept in bed in a well-ventilated room in isolation until all the scabs fall off. The nails should be cut short to prevent frequent scratching, as scratching can introduce infection and the spots thus infected will take longer time to heal, and may leave permanent scars. Wearing cotton gloves at night will avoid the risk of scratching while the child is asleep. Itching can be reduced by the application of talcum powder.
The child-patient should be given plenty of fruit and vegetable juices in the begining of the treatment. Lemon juice will be especially beneficial . Co-operative children can be given a small warm-water enema daily during this period to cleanse the bowels. In the alternative, glycerine suppository may be applied in case of constipation.
Application of mud packs on the abdomen twice a day in the morning and evening and repeated application of chest packs will be beneficial. The procedure for these packs has been explained in the Appendix. Lukewarm water baths can be given every day to relieve itching. For better results, neem leaves can be added to this water.
As the condition improves, the patient can be placed on an all- fruit diet for further two or three days. Thereafter he may be allowed to gradually adopt a well-balanced diet, with emphasis on fresh fruits and raw vegetables.
Certain home remedies have been found beneficial in the treatment of chicken pox. The use of cider vinegar is one such remedy. Half a cup of cider vinegar should be added to a bath of warm water. This will relieve irritation of the skin.
A bath of oatmeal is considered a natural remedy for relieving the itch due to chicken pox. This bath is prepared by cooking to cups of oat meal in two litres of water for 15 minutes. This mixture is then put into a cloth bag, preferably cotton, and a string is tied tightly at the top. This bag is allowed tofloat in a tub of warm water , swishing it around, until the water becomes milky. It should, however, be ensured that the bag is not broken. The child can splash and play in the water. The water should go over all the scalds. The child should, however, not be allowed to catch cold.
Green pea water is another effective remedy for relieving irritation of the skin. The water in which the fresh peas have been cooked can be used for this purpose.
Baking soda is also a popular remedy to control the itching in chicken pox. Some baking soda should be put in a glass of water. The child should be sponged with this water, so the soda dries on the body. This will keep the child from scratching the eruptions.
A soup prepared from carrots and corriander has been found valuable in chicken pox. About 100 gms. of carrot and 60 gms. of fresh corriander leaves should be cut into small pieces and boiled for a while. The reside should be discarded and the soup should be taken once a day.
The use of vitamin E oil is also useful in treating chicken pox. This oil should be rubbed into the body. It will have a healing effect. The marks of chicken pox will fade away by this application.
A mild sedative herbal tea can also prove beneficial in the treatment of this disease. This tea can be prepared from any of the herbs like camomile (babunan), basil (tulsi), magigold (zergul) and lemon balm (billitotan). A little cinnamon (dalchini) honey and lemon may be added to this tea. It should be sipped slowly several times a day.