Sandra is a medical herbalist, medical anthropologist, and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Your health: How to stop chicken pox itching

7 comments
Chicken pox is a contagious virus that causes small itchy blisters on the skin that may appear as a rash. Photo / Getty
Chicken pox is a contagious virus that causes small itchy blisters on the skin that may appear as a rash. Photo / Getty

My 2-year-old has come down with a nasty bout of chicken pox and is SO uncomfortable! What plant medicines have soothing properties that will calm his skin?
Joan, Manukau.

Hi Joan, I am sorry to hear that! Chicken pox can be so painful and irritating for anyone, let alone a 2-year-old!

Chicken pox is a contagious virus that causes small itchy blisters on the skin that may appear as a rash. It spreads rapidly, so it's important to keep children at home, away from preschool, school or the public until they are well again - which is usually five to 10 days.

A plant based topical cream would be great to stop the immediate discomfort; in particular a cream that contains calendula (calendula officinalis), chickweed (stellaria media), and nettle (urtica dioica).

Calendula naturally relieves the inflammation caused by the virus. Not only will it help to calm the skin with its soothing properties, but it is also antiseptic and helps with healing - all very important on such young skin.

This is vital, especially if your child scratches a lot, as this can lead to scarring.

Chickweed provides a cooling effect on the skin, which can help to relieve the discomfort of chicken pox. As the person heats up or moves, the rash can intensify and itching can increase. Chickweed works to cool topically and stop the incessant itching. It is also anti-inflammatory and helps to heal any wounds or blisters to minimize scarring.

Nettle is a traditional first aid remedy that has a specific affiliation with skin. It has a high mineral content comprising of calcium, magnesium, iron and other trace minerals that help the body restore irritated skin. It also helps to alleviate itching and reduce inflammation.

Applying a thin layer of cream three to four times daily it will help soothe the irritated and hot skin and reduce discomfort. You could also consider a plant based remedy containing nettle and robert; two medicinal plants that can help with chicken pox.

Robert helps with wound healing and also provides further anti-inflammatory actions. There are specific combinations of herbs that work perfectly as a chicken pox formula, some of which are available at your pharmacy or health store.

Another option would be to give your child a medicinal tea that contains nettle, as it has a flushing action on the kidneys that helps to cleanse away inflammatory debris. As mentioned above, nettle is a wonderful nutritive plant for the skin that adds a boost to skin healing and restoration.

Once the inching has subsided you may want to switch to applications of St. John's Wort oil as this will help the skin to heal and prevent scarring.

If symptoms persist or worsen please contact your lead medical provider.

- nzherald.co.nz

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Sandra is a medical herbalist, medical anthropologist, and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Sandra Clair is the founder of Artemis (artemis.co.nz) offering New Zealanders a premium range of traditional plant medicine products. She is one of New Zealand’s most highly qualified health professionals in her field, as a Swiss trained medical herbalist and a medical anthropologist (M.A.). Sandra is currently completing a PhD in health science at the University of Canterbury in collaboration with the Chair for Natural Medicine of the University of Zürich, Switzerland.

Read more by Sandra Clair

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