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Chickenpox: Controlling the Itch


Home treatment methods can help reduce the itchiness of the chickenpox rash. Try the following suggestions to make you or your child more comfortable and keep scratching under control.

  • Take warm to cool baths to help relieve itching.

    Take baths for 20 to 30 minutes as often as needed to stay clean and soothe your itchy skin. Always stay with young children when they are in a bathtub.

    • Do not use soap, or use only a mild soap. Soaps that are made for sensitive skin or recommended for babies are usually mild.
    • Add a handful of oatmeal (ground to a powder) to your bath. Or you can try an oatmeal bath product, such as Aveeno.
    • Blot the skin dry after bathing. Don't rub the skin.
  • Apply cool compresses to itchy areas.
    • Use a soft, absorbent cloth, such as a soft face cloth. Wet the cloth with cool water and apply the cool compress directly to the skin.
    • You can also make an oatmeal paste and apply it to itchy areas. Take some oatmeal that's been ground to a powder, and mix it with a little bit of warm water to make a paste. Spread the paste on a paper towel. Put the paste side of the towel against the itchy area of skin. Hold it there for 10 to 15 minutes. Then gently wash and pat the skin dry.
  • Apply soothing lotions that can help dry chickenpox blisters.

    But talk to your doctor before using lotions that contain antihistamines. You could try lotions with:

    • Phenol, menthol, and camphor, such as calamine lotion.
    • Oatmeal, such as Aveeno Lotion.
  • Use general hygiene practices to help prevent skin irritation and scratching.
    • Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing.
    • Change clothes and bedsheets daily.
    • Use a mild laundry detergent if clothes or linens seem to be irritating the skin.
  • Avoid using antihistamine lotions.

    You may apply too much medicine, which can be harmful. Ingredients to avoid include:

    • Diphenhydramine.
    • Lidocaine.
    • Pramoxine.
  • Try antihistamines taken by mouth.

    Sometimes they help relieve itching. This can help prevent you or your child from scratching the rash and blisters, especially during sleep. Some antihistamines can be bought over-the-counter. If you use them, carefully follow the directions on the label. Check with your child's doctor before you give them to your child.

  • Avoid getting hot and sweating.

    These trigger itching.

  • Stay out of sunlight.

    A child can play outside in the shade.


Current as of: June 13, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
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