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a mother holding a baby that has chicken pox

What to Do When Your Newborn is Exposed to Chickenpox

Welcome to Parenthood! Becoming a parent is the most incredible and awe-inspiring experience, yet it can also be filled with moments of sheer terror...

Few things can trigger more fear and anxiety than the thought of your newborn baby being exposed to chickenpox.

This highly contagious virus can cause severe illness and require medical attention. However, it is important to know there are steps you can take if your newborn has been exposed. a mother holding a baby that has chicken pox

Lucky for you, we've gathered some important knowledge and resources that can help.

Read on as we discuss the potential risks associated with chickenpox in newborns and provide suggestions for how to protect your baby during this potentially delicate period of time.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your newborn's health and any potential exposure to chickenpox. We are not liable for any consequences resulting from the use of this information.

Let's get into it:

Understanding Chickenpox and Its Risk To Newborns

Chickenpox is one of the most common infectious diseases in children and is caused by the varicella-zoster virus.

It is most often spread from person to person through contact with respiratory droplets or direct contact with chickenpox blisters.

Symptoms generally begin within 10-14 days after exposure and can include a high fever, red spots or rash on the body, and severe itching.

For newborns, chickenpox can be especially serious and require medical attention.

Complications can include skin infections, pneumonia, or brain inflammation.

It is important to note that a baby born to a mother with active chickenpox at delivery may be born with the disease. In rare cases, this could result in severe damage or even death.

Know Potential Symptoms in Newborns

The immune system of newborns is not yet fully developed, which makes them much more vulnerable to the virus and its potential complications.

If your baby has been exposed to chickenpox, it is important to watch for any potential signs or symptoms.

These could include:

  • a fever,
  • rash,
  • fluid-filled blisters and
  • swollen lymph nodes.

Should you notice any of these symptoms in your baby, you should contact your paediatrician immediately for further evaluation.

When to Contact Your Doctor

If you are aware that your newborn has been exposed to chickenpox, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Your paediatrician may suggest a blood test or other diagnostic tests as needed to determine if your baby has developed the virus.

In some cases, they may suggest administering a special vaccine known as Varicella Zoster Immunoglobulin (or VZIG).

This is especially true if your baby is younger than 28 days old or has a weakened or compromised immune system.

It's important to note that this vaccine can reduce the likelihood of severe illness in newborns exposed to chickenpox.

Minimise Exposure and Contamination

Newborns are usually at their highest risk of exposure when someone already has chickenpox or is in the early stages of developing it.

Try to be aware if anyone in your home or family members has recently been exposed to the virus, and keep your baby away from any potentially contaminated areas.

In addition, make sure to wash your hands and your baby's hands and any other surfaces that have come into contact with the virus to reduce the risk.

Finally, be sure to vacuum carpets and furniture frequently to get rid of any potentially contaminated particles in your home.

Keep Them Hydrated and Let Them Rest

If your baby does contract chickenpox, it is important to keep them hydrated and monitor their fever closely.

If a fever becomes too high or lasts longer than usual, contact your doctor immediately.

In addition, be sure to allow plenty of restful time for your baby - it can take up to 10 days for the virus to run its course - with adequate rest and hydration, you can help your baby to heal and recover more quickly.

Apply Calamine Lotion

Calamine lotion is an age-old home remedy for chickenpox, which can help to temporarily relieve your baby's itching.

Gently apply the lotion directly to the skin and cover it with a bandage or loose clothing - this will help to reduce any further contamination from scratching.

Be sure not to apply too much calamine lotion at once, as this can cause additional skin irritation.

If you are concerned about using calamine lotion, speak to your paediatrician for more advice on how to best manage your baby's symptoms.

Skip Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications 

Today, we have access to such a wealth of information that we have no problem self-medicating; however, this same information can be dangerous, perhaps even life-threatening, when it comes to newborns.

Never give an infant any sort of over-the-counter medication without first consulting with a doctor.

This is especially true for chickenpox, as some medications may interact with the virus and could cause further complications.

Always seek professional medical advice before administering any sort of medication or treatment to your baby.

Further Care & Treatment at the Doctor's Office

If your baby's condition does not improve after taking the above steps, it is time to take them to their doctor.

Your paediatrician may suggest other tests or treatments, such as antiviral medications or steroids.

As mentioned earlier, it is important to note that chickenpox can be very serious for newborns and infants and should not be taken lightly.

Be sure to seek medical advice if you are concerned for your baby's health and safety.

If you have any further questions or concerns about chickenpox in newborns, please don't hesitate to contact your doctor.

They can provide more detailed information on the virus, its effects, and the right steps to take in order to help your baby get better.

You may find this interesting - When Can My Child Go Back To School After Chickenpox?

In Summary

Newborn babies are at high risk for chickenpox, and it is important to be aware of the symptoms.

There is no cure for chickenpox, but there are things you can do to ease the symptoms if you or your child has come into contact with someone with chickenpox.

There are a few things you can do at home to help manage the itch and pain, but it's important not to use any over-the-counter medications without consulting your doctor first.

With proper medical care, most people recover from chickenpox without any long-term effects.

Do you have questions about chickenpox or other childhood illnesses?

Let us know in the comments!

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