In children, chickenpox usually begins as an itchy rash of red small bumps that turn to blisters on the stomach, back and face, and then spreading to other parts of the body. Blisters can also appear inside the mouth and on the scalp. Some children may also experience additional symptoms such as high fever, headache, cold like symptoms and vomiting and diarrhoea or serious complications like pneumonia

Children with chickenpox must stay away from the centre. A child is infectious from two days before the rash appears and stays infectious until all the blisters form scabs and are dry, this can take up to seven days as crops of blisters occur over several days. Once all the spots have formed scabs, the child is no longer infectious. The child may then go back to their centre provided they are otherwise well.

Recommendations

Advise parents and caregivers that:

  • Children with chickenpox are excluded for 7 days or until all blisters form scabs and are dry.
  • Chiickenpox is currently at the centre.  This is especially important for children at high risk of severe disease and pregnant women if they have not had chickenpox.
  • Advise parent/ caregiver to keep the childs nails short and clean to help stop the blisters getting infected.

At the Centre

  • Pay attention to hand washing for children and adults.
  • Avoid shared food (where people and children use their hands to select food). Use tongs or serve food onto plates.
  • Remove play dough and art to reduce the risk of spread.
  • Show children and discuss with staff how to cover a cough or sneeze. Coughing and sneezing into an elbow or a tissue is best.
  • Remove any toys and resources that cannot be wiped down easily i.e. soft toys, cane baskets.
  • Re-introduce hand gel for use when entering the centre. Make sure that the hand gel is appropriate for all children to use. Hand gel is only a pre-caution and does not replace hand washing.

Staff

  • Prior to starting work at an ECC it is recommended that any staff who have not previously had chickenpox or vaccinated get vaccinated to protect themselves from chickenpox. This is especially important for women who may become pregnant or people with health conditions that puts that at risk of severe disease.
  • You shouldn’t be vaccinated when you are pregnant or during the 30 days before becoming pregnant.
  • Pregnant staff who have not had chickenpox or not been vaccinated and have been in contact with someone with chickenpox need to talk to their Lead maternity carer or family doctor as soon as practible.

The DermNet NZ website has more information and pictures that you may find useful.

Last updated 18 October 2013.