How Chicken Pox Works

Chicken Pox Treatments: Scratching the Itch

Oatmeal baths can soothe itchy chicken pox blisters.
Oatmeal baths can soothe itchy chicken pox blisters.

Like the common cold, there's no quick fix for chicken pox. But there are some options for easing your itch and reducing any fever or pain. First, clip your fingernails to avoid scratching and to prevent secondary skin infections. Also consider wearing gloves when you go to bed so you don't scratch in your sleep.

Second, soak in an oatmeal bath, one of the most popular at-home solutions for relieving itchiness. This oatmeal isn't the kind you eat for breakfast, rather it's a finely ground type called colloidal oatmeal. You can either buy a pre-prepared soak at the drugstore or make your own by grinding uncooked oatmeal in a blender and putting two cups in a warm bath.

People have used oatmeal as a skin treatment for centuries because its of unique chemical anatomy, which packs a three-in-one punch. Its water-absorbent starches provide the moisturizing power. Acidic compounds called phenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains saponins, which are sugar derivatives found in soaps and detergents with cleansing and foaming capabilities.

Third, when you hop out of the tub, apply calamine lotion to your blisters to tackle the itch. Calamine is a pink zinc compound with anti-inflammatory properties that aid with drying the liquid inside the pox.

Fourth, over-the-counter pain relievers can help break your fever, but only use non-aspirin ones such as acetaminophen. Taking aspirin while battling chicken pox has been linked to Reye syndrome, particularly in children and youth. The syndrome is a rare, non-contagious condition that occurs in about one in a million cases [source: Nemours Foundation]. The prescription medications for varicella virus we discussed earlier are commonly reserved for individuals in danger of severe complications. For more information on how to safely treat your chicken pox, read Shingles and Chicken Pox In-Depth.

Once you heal from chicken pox, the good news is you're no longer itching and covered in blisters. The bad news is the varicella virus remains in your sensory nerve cells and can make a surprise visit in the form of shingles later in life. In the next section, we'll find out what happens when the virus comes knocking at your door for round two.