Well, it’s happened – five more of our children have come down with chickenpox in the last 36 hours, two weeks after ds5 came down with it.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to alleviate the discomfort of chickenpox. I’ll start with homeopathy.
a) If you recognize the chickenpox early on, give aconite. This will bring it to an end very quickly, without compromising the immunity benefits of getting chickenpox. I learned about this over twelve years ago from a friend who used it at the first sign of chicken pox, and it was over in a day. I couldn’t find a local store that sells homeopathic remedies, was fortunate to find a friend in the area with a homeopathic kit from whom I was able to borrow the two remedies I needed, but not in time to give the aconite to ds12 and dd10, who broke out first. But I am giving it to ds2, ds4, and ds9, and their cases are (so far) significantly lighter than the two older kids or ds5.
b) Then there are some other remedies you can give, but the main one I’ll mention here is rhus tox. Rhus tox is good for alleviating the itching, and I’m giving the two older kids rhus tox 30x (3 times a day for 48 hours).
c) Chamomilla is a good remedy for soothing.
Lots of people recommend Aveeno to relive the itchiness of chickenpox – but do you know what Aveeno is? Oatmeal! So open up your pantry and use the oatmeal you already have there, and it will be lots cheaper and just as effective. I put the oatmeal in a knee high nylon and knotted it at the end, to allow all the helpful substances in the oatmeal to seep out, while keeping the oats themselves out of the drain. Ds5 had a great time playing with this in his bath, and there was no mess at the end when I let the water out of the bath. The older kids didn’t play all day long in the bath like he did, but they also found it soothing.
I added some herbs to the oats to speed the healing: chamomile and comfrey. The chamomile is for soothing, and the comfrey is to help soothe the itching and heal the pox. (I was so glad I decided to bring my medicinal herbs along with me when I moved!) I used a tablespoon of each herb combined with a cup of rolled oats (I chopped the oats in a food processor but this isn’t necessary). Lavender is another good herb to include in the bath.
A couple of other things that can be helpful in baths are baking powder, and powdered ginger. With ds5, I sprinkled baking soda on the damp pox to alleviate itching. I didn’t bring along the large containers of powdered herbs that I used for cooking as well as for medicinal purposes (like mustard, cayenne, and ginger), so I didn’t use that.
Another herb that is soothing is slippery elm powder; it can be applied directly on wet pox.
Cool baths are more soothing that hot baths, which can exacerbate the discomfort of itching.
All of these herbs are good when brewed as tea: lemon balm, echinacea, St. John’s wort, ginger, pau d’arco, and burdock. I have most of these, but chose to make ds12 some tea with echinacea and cut stevia (the leaf) for some sweetness. All of these would be good added to the bath, as well.
Before I moved eight weeks ago, I bartered fifty pounds of spelt berries and six pounds of natural beeswax for several small bottles of essential oils – lots easier to bring with me!! Naturally, of the four oils that I now have on hand, I didn’t have any oils that were of help in this situation.
Here’s a couple that can be diluted with a carrier oil or some chamomile tea and applied to the pox: tea tree oil and lavender oil. A few drops can also be added to bath water.
When dealing with any cold or infection, it’s good to build up the body’s resources to aid it in fighting germs. Vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin D are always good for any kind of cold. (I posted guidelines for vitamin C dosing here.)
Vitamin E oil is great to apply on the pox to reduce scarring. Coconut oil can also be helpful when applied to the pox.
Good nutrition is always important, especially when a child is under the weather. Now’s not the time to give them sugary treats to make them feel better; they’ll be happy for the moment but it will slow their healing. Lots of liquids are important to keep your child hydrated; I made a huge pot of chicken broth with garlic and astragalus that we’re going through quite quickly!
Some other external things that can be applied:
Calendula cream – helps to heal pox after they’ve scabbed. Witch hazel can also be applied to help dry the pox out.
What not to use:
I’ve always thought of calamine lotion in the same breath as chickenpox, but after learning that it’s suppressive, didn’t go out to buy any for this go around with chicken pox. While it dried up the lesions, it keeps the toxins from exiting the body through the skin like they need to – you always want to allow the disease to leave the body!
Similarly, I personally try to stay away from fever suppressing drugs – eg Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, aspirin, etc. I believe that fevers aid the body in healing, so when a child has a fever that spikes (like ds12 right now), I use sponge baths or a damp cool cloth on the forehead to relieve excess heat.
Have any of your children had chickenpox? What tips have you found helpful in alleviating their discomfort?