The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your healthcare provider if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your healthcare provider, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your healthcare provider.
Acyclovir is an antiviral drug that may be recommended for patients who are at risk for moderate or severe chickenpox, such as children 12 or older, adults, or any person with:
Acyclovir given to persons of any age may help decrease the duration and severity of chickenpox and shorten the time of contagiousness to others. It is most effective when started in the first 24 hours after onset of chickenpox. Its effectiveness decreases significantly if begun more than 72 hours after the onset of the rash.
Acyclovir can be taken orally. For adults, there is some evidence that the related drugs valacyclovir and famciclovir might be more effective. Acyclovir can be given by vein for severely sick or those who are hospitalized, especially when the highest possible dosages are required.
Possible side effects include:
Antibiotics are only given when a bacterial infection is present, such as when the chickenpox rash has become infected by staphylococcal or streptococcal organisms. Some of these organisms may be resistant to common antibiotics, especially when infection is acquired in the hospital.
Possible side effects include:
These are signs of an allergic reaction and require immediate medical attention.
Common names include:
Immune globulin is a blood product that contains antibodies to the chickenpox virus and may be given to prevent chickenpox.
Antihistamines are used to reduce the itch that comes from the rash. The medication can be taken orally or applied to the skin.
The most common side effect of oral antihistamines is drowsiness. Topical diphenhydramine can produce a severe allergic skin rash. It can also cause severe sedation due to absorption from injured skin. It is generally not recommended for treating chickenpox.
Acetaminophen is taken to control the high fever caused by chickenpox.
Ibuprofen is taken to control the high fever caused by chickenpox.
Note : Ibuprofen should not be given to anyone with peptic ulcer disease, kidney failure, high risk of bleeding disorder, or known hypersensitivity. Special caution should be used in people with congestive heart failure, liver or kidney disease, high blood pressure, and those on anticoagulant.
If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:
Chickenpox. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/chickenpox.html. Updated May 2010. Accessed February 29, 2016.
Chickenpox. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116084/Chickenpox. Updated September 8, 2015. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Chickenpox (varicella). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox. Updated November 18, 2014. Accessed February 29, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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