Find out what does chicken pox look like, I had two over a weekend! More than 200 red bumps on two people! I heard over the phone from our pediatrician that Austin was confirmed positive after showing signs of chicken pox (varicella) for the last 3 days. Instead of giving me goose bumps, I jumped out out of joy. I couldn't wait any longer to be reunited with my little man! Sounded self-fish, but it was indeed a blessing in disguise. After I was diagnosed with chicken pox on Thursday, we knew that Austin was likely have been infected since the incubation period took about 2 weeks. We did consider the option of getting Austin to be immunized. Naturally, if I were to stay back. Debating over his age of barely 22-month old, we agreed that I should pack and go, in case he was still safe and sound. So, I left home in hurry while Austin was sleeping, without saying goodbye to him.
When he woke up, I heard he occasionally would stare at my picture and asking "mom, mom, mom!". He searched every rooms and corners, eventually understood the fact that I was not in the house. Even more touching when I found out that he arranged the U pillow nicely in the evening for our special 'ritual' of being together! I missed him terribly. And this was our first separation of more than 24 hours since he was born. But he was doing perfectly well, he had no signs separation anxiety anymore, but only the signs of chicken pox that were getting more peculiar.
What does Chicken Look Like in Toddlers
After I left, Daddy took over my role. He found out a couple tiny red bumps on his neck when he was bathing in the evening. Austin went to play school on the next day. Everything was fine and he was happy to be on a full day care. Unfortunately, the same red bumps on the neck didn't disappear, instead turned larger to be clear fluid-filled blisters on pink base. Look similarly to fire ant bites on first glance, but Daddy noticed that there was no crawling pattern of an insect bite. Instead, you'd know these bumps or papules surface systemically, at which random.
Day 2 - Three to four little blister bumps started around Austin's neck.
Day 3 - Invaders on neck stayed on. More red bumps, at least half a dozen were spotted on shoulder, back and face. Tiny. The more we found out, the likely it sounds that Austin is infected. Mommy had a perpetual cough on at the beginning, hardly slept though the night, extremely exhausted, nausea, head-ache, runny nose and feverish but these are completely too much for little Austin.
Day 4 - Daddy took Austin to see doctor in the morning. He was prescribed with symptomatic medications i.e. anti pyretic (PCM) and anti-histamine (chlorphehiramine). When I (mommy) returned, I noticed Austin had new tiny red rashes dotting his ears, scalp, face, and groin apart from a dozen plus of the old rashes. About half pustules are blisters primarily on the neck and back. Gave Austin breast milk though I was on acyclovir treatment (anti viral agent). Consulted pediatrician, potentially only traces of drug managed to pass through boobies since acyclovir demonstrated a poor oral absorption. With not even 50 pustules, I was considered 'lucky' otherwise have to live with ugly scars for the rest of my life. Austin on the other hand, surviving on his own antibodies to fight, was invaded over 100 pustules, and we are still counting. Huge number for a little man of smaller surface area ah!
Day 5 - It could be the peak as if a new wave hit the abdominal, arms, palms, thighs and calves. Nothing on soles. Continued supplementing fluid and breast milk. Still active. In the evening, Austin was fighting very hard. His body temperature shot up, above 38 deg Celsius, we then gave him a dose of PCM (paracetamol) and anti-histamine (chlorphehiramine). Early to bed, slept through the night and rose after 8 am, we're happy Austin had a good rest.
Day 6 - We're glad to see some bumps started drying up, crusted in brown and a few torn blisters - these must be stingy when in contact with water. Loss interest in water intake. Early morning, administered a dose of PCM. Austin's body temperature returned below 37.5 deg Celsius in mid afternoon. However, it went up to 38.5 deg Celsius after dinner. Relatively sluggish. Clingy. Not much movement, longing for longer nap though Austin couldn't shut his eyes more than an hour. Itchy and scratchy. Praying hard that no new rash is going to invade this little body.
Day 7 - Rising at dawn and crazed for breakfast as soon as Austin stepped in kitchen. Our prayers were answered. Majority of the blisters have crusted, giving the dark red spots dotting this tiny body. Some smaller rashes didn't turn into be blisters, but shrunk, indicating the wounds are recovering. Mild feverish, on the low end running between 37 to 37.8 deg Celsius. A longer nap, almost 3 hours in the afternoon. Spotted ulcer on Austin's gum. Strong refusal towards water or any liquid.
Day 8 - Sign of scabbing spotted. A large one on the neck, first blister becomes the first scab! Extremely low water intake therefore, diluting his foods so that Austin is taking more fluid. Not to miss, a kiwi a day to keep the doctor at bay. I took Austin out of the house after quarantined him for last 3 days. This little guy is more than a little scratchy at night, sigh! A green day, Austin's body temperature all day are below 37.5 deg Celsius. I am completely healed for sure since my Filipino neighbor didn't notice my less than a handful crust :P
Day 9 - More crusts are turning scabs especially when I bath Austin. At least, rubbing Austin’s neck doesn’t give the feel of sandpaper anymore. Phew!! Hope they are not stingy when shower pours. Austin is terribly active, shrieking 'mom mom mom', 'talking' hoarse, dying to get out of our gate! Back to take water by himself occasionally. Crusts on scalp are the most stubborn to go off.
Day 10 - Grace to God. He heals us. Halleluiah!!
What we used for topical treatment:
Calamine lotion at blistering stage as it does help to reduce itchiness. Once the pustules started crusting, we rubbed on some almond oil and Sebamed baby lotion. Some scabs look as large as the oil well, thus we also invested in Bephanten to aid recovery.
Chicken Pox Contagious Period
There are perhaps a few versions contagious stage. You probably heard it from your mother or any elderly folks that crusting and scabbing are the the most contagious period. Though doctors may find this a myth, let me explain why they are sticking to this belief.
In the old days, when one of their schooling childs was infected with chicken pox, parents were not aware until the first few blisters appeared. What happened if the scene was rewinded - the child was already exposed to an infected person with chicken pox about two weeks ago. The virus stays in the body and takes about 10-21 days to develop chicken pox symptoms. This is called incubation period. With rash, fever, coughing, fussiness, headache, and loss of appetite, the illness lasts about 5–10 days.
Typically, it takes about two to three weeks for the crusted blisters to scab and completely heal. And when the first child was healing, the second child in their family was found with first blister, at which the parents mistakenly concluded crusting and scabbing stages are the most infectious period. The missing fact is incubation period.
Going back to the question of how long is a person with chickenpox contagious?
"Patients with chickenpox are contagious for 1 to 2 days before the first rash appears and continue to be contagious through the first 4 to 5 days or until all the blisters are crusted over." ~ source: vaccineinformation.org
I called up my pediatrition, and he confirmed the above facts. He stressed out, "As long as the wound is no longer moist, the contagious period is over. The challenge is early detection."
"You may allow your kids to play with others but their parents may freak out to see dark red crusts all over your child", he quipped.
The healing period from crust to scab and scar tends to be different on different individual. Children with skin sensitivity may take longer to be completely recovered. Thus if your child's school has a quarantine policy, it is a great place. Show up with a fit-for-school letter to convince the staff that your child is no longer contagious, and he gets to mingle with his friends freely.
Cheeky Austin is back!!