My baby has the chicken pox.
It started with one spot in his diaper area on Friday morning, and has since developed into a full blown head to toe case. He's doing remarkably well for how miserable he looks. Surprisingly, my three year old does not have them, even though he was exposed at the same time. Yes, that's right. I'm one of those moms who purposely exposes her kids to diseases in hopes to get them out of the way when they're young so we don't have to worry about it later. I'm well aware that there is a vaccine for the chicken pox. So far it is the only vaccine that we have decided to forgo.
Vaccinating kids is a very complex subject with strong feelings on either side of the equation. I believe that, in general, vaccines are a good thing. When my little brother was a baby he almost died from haemophilus influenza type B. There is now a vaccine for this and it has saved many parents from the worry that my parents went through. To me, however, the chicken pox vaccine is a little different. First of all, the chicken pox is a very manageable illness and complications in healthy children with normal immune systems is very rare. Yes it's a PITA, and the kids are miserable for about a week, but very very few children die from the chicken pox. Secondly, the chicken pox vaccine is a very new one, and not very effective at that. In the history of new vaccines, many get pulled after several years of use on the general population because risks are discovered that weren't apparent in the development stages due to inadequate testing. I'd rather my kid not be the guinea pig. Also, the chicken pox vaccine is a live virus vaccine. Kids can actually contract the disease from the vaccine, and kids and catch the disease from a child who has been recently vaccinated even if they do not appear sick. And probably my biggest reason for deciding against the chicken pox vaccine is that it is not a lasting immunity like the wild virus. Chicken pox can be a very serious illness to older children, teens, adults, and especially elderly. The extent of the pox is much greater in teens and adults, and the risks of complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis is much higher. I would rather my kids suffer a lesser case as a young child when they won't remember the ordeal and be set for life then get vaccinated as a child and risk being susceptible as a teen or adult when the risk is much greater.
So now that the little one has successfully contracted the chicken pox (we shared some suckers with a friend who currently had them) I am left trying to comfort a very itchy 14 month old. Sunday and Monday he had a bit of a fever, and really just wanted to snuggle all day. Fevers are a body's way of combating intruders, in this case the chicken pox virus, so I didn't treat it with anything other then extra hugs and cuddles. Last night was pretty rough, as he is now quite itchy and had a very hard time falling and staying asleep. To help relieve the itching so we could all get some sleep I did a few different things. First I applied tea tree oil to the spots. Tea tree oil is a very effective anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. While the tea tree oil was setting on his spots I drew a warm bath. I placed about a cup of oatmeal and 1/4 cup of baking soda into a thin cotton dish cloth and tied it shut. I placed this under the running water until the bath was cloudy. Then I popped my kiddo into the tub, and used the oatmeal cloth to sponge all his spots, squeezing the oat milk out all over him. He loved this, and he usually isn't a big fan of bath time. Then I pulled him out, patted him down, and gave him a fresh clean double thick cloth diaper. The itching was soothed enough that he was able to sleep for several hours. My husband repeated the oatmeal bath in the wee hours of the morning, and we all managed to sleep until 8.
And thus has been our experience so far with the chicken pox. Please remember that I am not a doctor, just a mother who reads too much. It is important that you do your own research on vaccines and include your pediatrician in your decisions.