Chickenpox is one of the classic childhood diseases. A child or adult with chickenpox may develop hundreds of itchy, fluid-filled blisters that burst and form crusts. Chickenpox is caused by the virus varicella-zoster, a member of the herpesvirus family. The same virus also causes herpes zoster (shingles) in adults.

According to the University of Maryland’s Medical Centre:

Chickenpox can be spread very easily to others. You may get chickenpox from touching the fluids from a chickenpox blister, or if someone with chickenpox coughs or sneezes near you. The vaccine usually prevents the chickenpox disease completely or makes the illness very mild. Even those with mild illness may be contagious.

When someone becomes infected, the pox usually appear 10 to 21 days later. People become contagious 1 to 2 days before breaking out with pox. They remain contagious while uncrusted blisters are present.

Chickenpox | West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy

Most cases of chickenpox occur in children younger than 10. The disease is usually mild, although serious complications sometimes occur. Adults and older children usually get sicker than younger children do.

In most cases, it is enough to keep children comfortable while their own bodies fight the illness. Oatmeal baths in lukewarm water provide a crusty, comforting coating on the skin. An oral antihistamine can help to ease the itching, as can topical lotions. Trim the fingernails short to reduce secondary infections and scarring.

Safe antiviral medicines have been developed. To work well, they usually must be started within the first 24 hours of the rash.

Until all chickenpox sores have crusted over or dried out, avoid playing with other children, going back to school, or returning to work.

The outcome is generally excellent in uncomplicated cases. Encephalitis, pneumonia, and other invasive bacterial infections are serious, but rare, complications of chickenpox.

Once you have had chickenpox, the virus usually remains dormant or asleep in your body for your lifetime. About 1 in 10 adults will experience shingles when the virus re-emerges during a period of stress.

So while essential oils won’t directly prevent one getting chicken pox, they are a wonderful way to soothe and relieve the discomforts that accompany this condition.

Which oils would you consider using?

Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) – excellent for skin regeneration. It helps to heal wounds and scars and is a very calming oil. It also has analgesic properties and helps with anxiety and crankiness.
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutica) -analgesic, anti-inflammatory, temperature reducing. It has been found to be helpful in treating acne, boils, burns, wounds and ulcers.
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) -anti-inflammatory and strongly antiseptic has been found helpful for acne, herpes, impetigo, wounds (infected) and cold sores.
Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini) – has antiseptic and cell regenerating properties. It has been useful for eczema (dry, wet & oozing), scars and wrinkles. It regulates sebum and aids in the regeneration of skin.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – with its analgesic, calming and cooling properties has been found to be helpful for skin rashes.

How would you use them?

Topically, in a mist spray to help prevent the itching. Hydrosols can be excellent for this use too.

Cool compresses of essential oil – hydrosol mixtures can be applied regularly throughout the day to the vesicles for topical relief.

In the bath, combined with bicarbonate of soda to help prevent itching.  Remember that essential oils do not dissolve in water so add an equal number of drops of emulsifier, or if you don’t have an emulsifier add an equal number of drops of liquid soap to disperse the essential oil droplets through the water.

In a diffuser, to help disinfect the room and calm any of the emotional swings that might accompany someone who is not feeling well.

In a room mister to disinfect the air and bedding.

Rosemary Caddy, in her book Aromatherapy, the Essential Blending Guide suggests blending a combination of lavender and German chamomile will provide relief for the itchiness while at the same time guarding against infection getting into the chickenpox spots. 12 drops of Lavender combined with 6 drops of German chamomile added to 100ml of Calamine lotion and applied all over the body twice. 4 drops of lavender combined with 1 cup of bicarbonate of soda can be added to the bath for relief . 4 drops of Tea Tree added to a mister bottle full of water and sprayed in the rooms of the house to combat the spread of infection.

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