Is the Saying True?

Updated on August 08, 2008
J.F. asks from Klamath Falls, OR
75 answers

Hi! My name is J. and I am uncertain whether or not to expose my son to the chicken pox. The doctor and my friends have said that it is easier for the children when they are younger than when they are older or adults. I was wondering if anyone had tried it and if so what was the outcome and how did it go? Has anyone heard anything contradictory to what I was told? My son will be starting pre-school this fall and I would prefer he received it before he started elementary and if its possible to have control over that I'm wondering if I should start looking for play dates with children who are infected with the pox. Please, any and all suggestions are welcome.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your responses and advice. It was very helpful. My son was vaccinated and the doctor said that if he ever contracts the pox, that it shouldn't be a severe case. I'm just glad I finally made a decision! Thanks again to all of you!

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L.M.

answers from Seattle on

Is there a reason you don't want to do the vaccination? My children had it and only one of them had chicken pox as a baby. I on the other hand had it at 33 and it was horrible, but they were able to contain it with herpes medicine (I didn't know that they were from same virus)I am glad to say the medication worked.

If a child gets Chicken Pox they can get Shingles as an Adult which I don't know much about, but what I hear is not good. My suggestion is to get the vaccine, but maybe you know more about this vaccine that I haven't heard about yet?

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S.B.

answers from Spokane on

My two oldest kids had CP but my third was able to get a vaccine when she was 6 yrs old (she is 14 now). Now my youngest has had the vaccine and no sign of CP with either of them. I never even hear about anyone having it anymore.
I remember having CP when I was little, everyone had it back then, and it was terrible. I am midway through life now and still have scars. Also, I have heard that having CP makes you more prone to have other problems later in life and a few people I know have had CP more than once!
I vote for never having it.

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A.K.

answers from Portland on

Ahhhh, the good old chicken pox parties! These were very common years ago before the vaccine was developed. Parents would get their kids together in the hopes that they would all get a mild case of the pox and all would be well. It is true that kids tend to have less severe cases of chicken pox than adults do. Adults tend to get pretty ill. Here is my two cents about the pox parties: Don't do it. The risk of complications are FAR greater with the infection than with the immunization. I know some people out there are anti-immunization and I don't want to open that can of worms. Do your research and look at the stats- children can suffer some pretty severe symptoms with a pox infection yet some have no symptoms at all. The problem is that you can't really know what will happen with your child. The immunization is quick and easy- yeah your kid will cry but I would rather that than the alternative.... good luck in whatever decision you come to. Ultimately, it's what you feel comfortable with.

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R.L.

answers from Seattle on

When I worked at a peds office, the nurses never advised this. They said that it was a potentially life threatening disease and they couldn't, in good conscience, encourage patients to expose their kids to it, even with the conventional wisdom that it's easier on a younger kid than an older one.

Having seen some really severe cases of chicken pox, I gave my kids the Varivax vaccine so they won't get it.

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M.J.

answers from Spokane on

I have had a chicken pox party. Actually it was a birthday party but my daughter came down with the chicken pox just before. We went ahead with the party since everyone who was coming was already exposed. Some children were covered with pox, some weren't. We had a clown named Dot, we had Dalmatian party favors and everything was spot related. It is the most talked about party. What wasn't fun was my three kids taking turns getting the pox, so we had six weeks of it.

I had twins since them and choose to get them vaccinated. I am not one of those anti-vaccination parents because I think alot of parents don't know what these diseases were like so it is easy to choose not to have them. Of course, chicken pox is not like polio but ya know.

I would have preferred my younger three not have them. I am missing part of my eye lid from a chicken pox and many people in my family have scars from them. They can get in your throat and mouth...even your stomach. It's not a simply easy childhood illness.

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M.T.

answers from Portland on

Before you make a decision, I would suggest doing more research on line to understand the disease and its risks better. There are a large number of articles and sources of information regarding the disease and risks. There is a reason for the vaccine, which by the way, is administered in most countries around the world, not just here. If it were "ok" just to get the virus, then the vaccine and it's follow-up booster would not be administered so broadly. Also, for all of us that have concerns about Shingles affecting us or family later in life I just heard on NPR that they are in process of approving a booster for the virus for age 50+ to address the recurrence. Hope that helps as you make a decision.

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M.E.

answers from Spokane on

The Chickenpox vaccine has been mentioned, but one thing everyone should be aware of is that it does NOT provide LIFETIME immunity. The vaccine wares off after 10-15 years when chickenpox actually poses a serious health risk (sterility in adulthood and late teens). Personally I would recommend direct exposure with infected children, one infection of the chickenpox during childhood, usually provides LIFETIME immunity. One thing Ive heard of is a chickenpox party, where infected children and those who's parents want them exposed get together for a playdate.

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R.R.

answers from Seattle on

Yes it is true, it is better for the child to get them when they are young. The older they are the sicker they get. But that is why they have the checken pox immunization. My son got his first injection at 1yr and the next at 5yrs. I beleave the Varicella Vaccine is requried before they start school and my son had to have it before he could go to pre school. So I would ask my doctor why he is not being given the requred vacines. I know some parents have refused to have their childern given the vaccines, I really don't understand why.
Most parents today have had all the immunizations except the one mentioned above and the Hep A and Hep B, along with the Pneumococcal, Because in up to the late 80"s that I know of these were not avalible. My daughte was born in 1972, this is how I know this. My son who was born in 2003 and is 5 has gotten all the injections reguried along with the Hep A which is one I don't think is requried yet. No side effects, not even the normal fussiness after shots.
But back to your quistion, yes any of the childhood deases are harder on a child the older they get. I was told by my daughter who is a nurse, that checken poxs on a grown man could be as bad as getting the mumps.
Although if they get them when they are older they understand DO NOT SCRATCH, but it is not worht putting an older child through.
So think about up dating your sons vaccines and Good Luck

I would like to tell you about my daughter, she was exposed and got the CP at 6mos. Sheonly got one spot, we thought we were so lucky, But at age 4 she got the full blast of them. My poor baby was in so much discomfort and forget about sleeping. The doctor first started treating her for Infontago (Can't spell, but sounds right) anyway the treatment was calimine loction, oatmeal baths, lots of baths. This was weried to me because my mom told me with both, which I had as a child, you keep them dry, and they will go away faster. But I did what the doctor told me and her Checken Pox's got infected, she had then everywhere, eyes, up the nose, in her mouth, all over her body and yes up inside of her vigina. A terrible thing for a little girl to have. even though she din't scratch she at 36 still has scars on her body and face, (the other areas I don't know about) But I can't see putting a child through any illness on purpose.

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C.G.

answers from Medford on

I think that is what immunisations are for.
exposure without the risk of serious illness.

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C.W.

answers from Seattle on

J.,

I applaud you for doing what you think is best for your child. CP is definitely not a life-threatening disease unless you have an immunosuppressed child. Let your child catch it naturally and enjoy lifelong immunity. Contrary to what one mother wrote, if you do catch CP fully then you will have lifelong immunity. Those who catch CP twice usually only have very mild cases. I caught CP when I was 15 and while it was an older age to catch it and wasn't very fun, it wasn't horrible and life-threatening. Our bodies are pretty remarkable and become stronger when given the chance to fight things off naturally rather than relying on unnatural chemicals (vaccines) which can have irreparable damage and cause chronic diseases in themselves (asthma, eczema, etc.). I have researched into vaccines and the diseases they supposedly save us from a lot and I think in this case you are making the right decision. The CP vaccine has some really questionable ingredients so I would not get it. And even though your little one will get CP and not feel the greatest, he will get through it just fine just like we all did when we were young and never get it again. Good for you for choosing natural immunity!

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J.O.

answers from Corvallis on

J.,
Please do NOT believe the posts that say that if your child gets chicken pox naturally that there is lifetime immunity because that is COMPLETELY false. If getting chicken pox naturally caused lifetime immunity then all of the older generation that are now in their 60+ yrs would not be having a reimmergence of chicken pox in the form of shingles. All immunity wanes whether it is from natural exposure or vaccines. Unless ones body is continually exposed to a particular bacteria or virus, no immunity continues forever. Please don't believe the hype about 'natural' immunity vs vaccine immunity, it just isn't true!

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S.B.

answers from Portland on

Hi J.
This saying has been around for a long time and during the forced Indian Schools the healthy children were made to play with the sick ones for the same excuse. Thousands died becous they did not get medical care. Entire tribes and cultures were wiped out with small pox and other diseases brought by the white man in the taking of this land. We now have the medical means to prevent many diseases and treat them. I know vaxceans are debated to use or not, that is your choice. Chicken pox is highly contagous so it is your gamble with your family to expose or vaxinate.

Good in disision making

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W.L.

answers from Seattle on

I too have to throw my opinion in here. I got them when I was about 2 and was so sick from them I almost died. I had the chicken pox on the inside as well as the outside. So young ones can get VERY ill as well. Why someone would want their child to suffer through the itching and fever and scarring and the pain. Some children throw up the entire time they have them it can get pretty bad. My oldest got the first vaccine when it first came out he still got them but he had 4 spots and a low grade fever for 1 day that was it. So of course my opinion would be just get the shot for him. Not many kids have the C/P nowa days so it'd be hard to find someone that actually has them.

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T.F.

answers from Seattle on

My 4 year old already got vacinated against chicken pox awhile ago by his pediatrician. I think he was 2 then. I think it is standard to do that now, so they don't have to get it and all the scratches and scars that come with that. I still have my scars from getting it as a kid.

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G.P.

answers from Seattle on

I would not expose my child to the chicken pox because there is a vaccine for the CP. Your child should have gotten the shot with his regular baby shots. It is silly to give him a disease that he never has to experience.

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K.M.

answers from Portland on

J.,

just remember if you expose your son, you will be stuck at home for at least 10 days. Chicken pox is extremely contagious so if he has is exposed to it don't risk going out with him and exposing others. After exposure you can be contagious before you get the spots. My daughter got it (unwantingly) at the doctor's or at the hospital after an accident at home. I would have vaccinated her if I'd know it was out. She didn't suffer much, but she has so many scars all over her body. (they have such delicate skin at a young age.) I may sound idol, but I would have spared her it if I had known about it sooner.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

You have received lots of advice. I'll add just one thing. The nephew of a friend was ill with chicken pox. I don't know how it happened but he ended up hospitalized and died in a few days. We cannot control the course of an illness once we get it. We now have the ability to prevent the most serious childhood illnesses. Yes, most children survive chicken pox with little long term effects. But there are the few who don't survive and even more who suffer lifelong effects. Of the people who have numerous scars on their face some of those are from chicken pox. Some men are sterile as a result of chicken pox and mumps.

We can say it's easier for a child to have chicken pox young. However, we have no control over who that child infects before we know that it's chicken pox. For the safety of both your child and the others who are going to be exposed I urge vaccination.

For the safety of your child as an older adult, I urge vacination. My mother had shingles and then post herpatic syndrome for 20 years to the point that she could not wear clothes on her back. Any light touch triggered immense pain.

I had chicken pox and have suffered cold sores and mouth sores my entire adult life. The mouth sores have become nearly unbearable from time to time since I reached my fifties.

Although I have heard stories of negative effects caused my immunizations I have not heard of any caused by the chicken pox vaccination.

Please consider vaccination!

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J.B.

answers from Seattle on

Couldn't resist throwing in my opinion. I am the youngest of five and was exposed to every childhood illness but didn't catch any of them until I was 24 and older. On the other hand I've heard horror stories of men and chicken pox.

J. Beck
Chehalis WA

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R.C.

answers from Portland on

Yes it is safer for children than adults to have chicken pox, but it is MUCH safer for children to NOT have it at all. With the vaccine you don't have to worry about it anymore. Both of my kids have had the vaccine and besides the 'normal' shot fever they were fine and still are.

If your doctor hasn't brought up the possibility of vaccination then it is time to find a new doc...

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T.B.

answers from Seattle on

Ive never actually heard of exposing your child to chicken pox purposely but...I do know that when your child enters kindergarten he will need 2 vaccinations for chicken pox now. (at least in King County/Wash State). Im not sure if there may be opt out options for parents who do not wish to vaccinate their children? I just took my son to his Pediatrition yesterday and he had his second dose. My daughter is 15 and only had one chicken pox vaccination when she was a kid and has never gotten chicken pox. Hopefully she never will. Although I would agree if a person was to have chicken pox it wld be better as a kid than an adult. But what if he never does?

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D.D.

answers from Seattle on

Both of my kids are older. With my oldest, it was before the vaccine came out and I tried exposing her to chicken pox before she started school. Wouldn't you know, she didn't get it even though she had played with three kids who did have it. She got it after first grade, and it was unplanned and inconvenient. She had a terrible case, with sores in her mouth too. But there is really no sure way to plan something like chicken pox. Without being vaccinated, your son will get it when the conditions are right. And yes, it is worse if they are older. I had my second daughter vaccinated right after the vaccine came out, so she hasn't had chicken pox. My thoughts have always been that if there is a shot for something, get it. Considering the severity of the case my oldest child had, I didn't want to put my youngest through it when there was a solution available. So it's basically a choice you will have to make. Good luck!

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T.W.

answers from Portland on

You can vaccinate for chicken pox now. there is no reason to expose him to something he doesn't ever have to get. My husband has gone thru life without getting chicken pox. I had a horrible case of them and have scares on my face from them. I have vaccinated all my kids so they wont have to go thru that.

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E.S.

answers from Richland on

My nephew was exposed on purpose when he was 2 months old and it caused him to lose his hearing is now 11 years old and only has 10 percent hearing in one ear and 20 in the other.And that's with hearing aids.
My opinion is why risk it?

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L.M.

answers from Seattle on

Chicken Pox can have serious side-effects for some children, not to mention extremely painful shingles when they get older. Our doctor strongly recommended the vaccine for both our daughter and myself (I've never had it either) & said the idea of intentional exposure should now be considered an outdated and potentially dangerous idea. Why make your kid miserable when it's not necessary? We both got the vaccine about 4 years ago and so far, she's been exposed several times & has had no problems.

That's my 2 cents!

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J.W.

answers from Richland on

Personally I would expose my child to chicken pox at his age. My daughter had it when she was 3 and it was a mild case and she recovered just fine. I myself contracted chicken pox when I was 19 years old and let me tell you it was hell! It is true that it is worse in older people and in the very young, such as infants under a year old. I am against the chicken pox vaccine. Nowadays many doctors will try to scare parents into getting the vaccine by saying that chicken pox kills. It's like they expect us to forget that we all had chicken pox and survived without any lasting problems save maybe a pock mark or two! And once you've fought off the disease you make strong antibodies which prevent you from ever coming down with it again, without needing any booster shots. Furthermore, vaccinating children stimulates a weaker immune response than if they had actually had the chicken pox and then a mother who has been vaccinated doesn't pass on strong antibodies to her baby leaving him at risk for contracting the disease in infancy when it is more dangerous! OK I'll get off my soap box now! I hope that helps.

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L.C.

answers from Portland on

Hi I can only tell you that my daughter gave me the pox when I was 21 years old. It was a horrible experience. My Mom thought I had them as a child, but it must have been my sisters instead. My daughters symtoms where mild compared to mine, although I am sure she didn't enjoy the chicken pox, better to have them younger then when you are older. Good luck and I hope this helps. L.

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L.I.

answers from Seattle on

What you have failed to say is if your son has had the varicella vaccine when he was 1 yo. If so then your child has already been exposed and is fine. If he has not had the vaccine then I would expose him. The vaccine is the easiest way to go though. I had exposed my oldest when he was little and had no problems when he did contract chicken pox. However my next 2 where given the vaccine. I really prefered it. My children did not suffer from the symptoms of the pox. Just a little discomfort from the shot. Very rarely does a child actually develop the pox from the shot.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
L.

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T.V.

answers from Seattle on

Hi there-
I do believe they are worse as an adult...I had them when I was young but had a friend who got them when they were an adult and it was miserable!

So, I'm thinking you might be against the vaccination, although you didn't mention anything about it one way or another. Both of my children have had the vaccination...my daughter just got a booster at her 5 year appt. and my son got his at 18 months, if I remember right! All of my friends who have young children have also got the vaccine so I would say that you might have a hard time even finding children at play dates who have them!

You said your Dr said it's easier on them as children, but you didn't say whether that Dr encourages you to purposely expose him to them (if you can find them). I would ask his/her advice on that for sure! Even in children, there are complications that can arise with pox.

I know vaccinations are a VERY touchy subject, but my opinion is that you get him vaccinated against them.

Good luck with whatever decision you make!

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A.S.

answers from Seattle on

I've always heard that it is easier the younger they are - from several different doctors and from several people.

We exposed our daughter to the pox at 18 months. I did not vaccinate here because I've had too many friends who's children were vaxed and then still got a bad case. That's not so much of a concern, but I was afraid that if vaxed, my daughter might contract the live disease later - even as an adult and it could be very serious.

So, we had her share lolipops with someone who had it. I would move fast - meaning as soon as you hear about someone having it. Sometimes kids still don't get it. I exposed my doctor's 4 children all at the same time (sharing a lolipop) and only 3 of the 4 got it that time. (the other one got it from her siblings).

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. OH, and I would only do this if your child didn't have a compromised immune system (meaning some other disease or something.) And, also when your child has it, don't give them tylenol for the fever, unless it is like 104. The fever is the natural way of the body ridding the toxins. If you take the fever away then it's harder for the body to get rid of the pox.

You can look on motheringdotcommune.com (forums) for people in your area that might have the pox. There were a lot of people discussing this issue there.

Disclaimer, the above is solely my opinion, I'm not a medical professional and this is NOT medical advice, just my personal opinion.

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T.A.

answers from Seattle on

You're probably not looking into the vaccination which is why you want to expose your child, it is easier to have it as a child than later with proper care. The vaccination hasn't been around long enough and they don't know if/when the immunity wears off after a few years, so they could get it later if immunized, which is worse! I've actually seen a poll that stated the number one reason parents elect to give their kids the vaccine is so they won't have to take 1-2 weeks off work/school-appalling!

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K.B.

answers from Seattle on

Hi,

Honestly, I don't think I would be looking to expose my child to chicken pox. If it happens, I would prefer it would be in a natural course. However, you are correct that it's much easier for children to recover sooner than adults.

I have a 7 year old and 4 year old and I haven't heard of a chicken poxs out break. I think todays medical technology has an upper hand on this and parents are more responsible in having their children shots up to date.

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H.S.

answers from Seattle on

It's much easier on young children than on adults. But your biggest problem will no doubt be finding children WITH chicken pox since there is now a vaccine to prevent the disease.

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B.A.

answers from Augusta on

Yep. I would do it if my girls were a bit older! I had CP when I was 7 and my brother had it when he was 2 (caught it from me) and my brother had a MUCH milder case than I did... unfortunately, wild CP is difficult to find these days.

Best wishes!
~B.

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K.F.

answers from Seattle on

I'd vaccinate against them instead of trying to give it to him....that just reminded me of that South Park episode where the parents were trying the same thing, and it backfired on them, badly.
Shingles can result as an adult, even worse.
Once you get the Chicken Pox the virus will remain in the body for life. Chicken Pox is herpes. Just gross thinking about it.
That is where shingles comes in to play. The area where the chicken pox hit the worst, shingles can come and go, ruining the nerves in that area or areas.
I barely had the chicken pox, doc thought I might get them again. The one spot where I actually had a scar I got the shingles. Now my left upper arm has nerve damage.
So, I would think twice before giving him the chicken pox.

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D.R.

answers from Portland on

I have heard to expose them, I really don't know. Each of my 3 kids have been vacinated against them. (ages 14, 10 and 6)

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G.H.

answers from Richland on

I liked Rebecca M.'s letter. I've been waiting for my son to get C.P., also. It's been hard to find other kids that have it. Now my son is going on 11 next week, he HAS to get the vaccine before going to Middle School. I guess I feel better now that his immune system is strong and healthy, but I still wish he had gotten the virus instead of the vaccine.

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T.N.

answers from Spokane on

It is a lot easier on kids than adults to have chicken pox I had never had them until I was 26 yrs old. My mom tried to expose me and my brother as much as possible but we never got them in school or around the neighborhood. My twins came home with them in Kindergarten two weeks later my other 2 kids came down with them and at the same time so did I. My twins had about the same amount of chicken pox a few but not a whole lot. My 3rd daughter maybe had about 20 she had a very mild case of them me and my son both were covered head 2 toe it took me longer to get better but the kids it barely phased them at all. So if I were you try to expose them as often as you can. Oh by the way I sat next to a girl in 1st grade that got them but I never did and everybody around her got them.

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S.F.

answers from Richland on

Have you vaccinated them? Not sure what state you live in, but my son has to have his vaccination prior to kindergarten. Not everyone likes to vaccinate, I completly understand that! My doctor said there were 2 shots that were needed and even though he got the CP already, even a bad case, he would still have to have shot #2. My son got the chicken pox when he was 10 months old and it was THE most horrible thing to go through... horrible, for about 1 week it was horrible.. did I say horrible? And he didn't know how to itch then either! He was 2 months shy of the 1st vaccination ( I guess they get another before kindergarten? ). I had a family that wanted me to expose their kids.. but if you havent vaccinated him, expose him.. but be fore-warned, it's not fun by any means! Do your research before hand, stock up on oatmeal baths, caladryl (has calamine and benadryl, great stuff) and oral benadryl too. Good luck! He may/could be one of those kids that never get's it either. But like I said, it was horrible to go through, and I have seen way worse cases too! Good luck!

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M.P.

answers from Seattle on

J., you (and he!) would be much better off talking to your pediatrician about getting the vaccine. They didn't have a vaccine when we were kids, but they have one now.
Chicken pox is miserable, and can be dangerous even to small children. Plus, they can end up with nasty scars.
Please consider the vaccine as a much safer alternative!
-M.

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L.A.

answers from Seattle on

I'd really recommend your kid get chicken pox before reaching adulthood. When I was in college - two of my friends had it - it is really bad as a young adult. Another woman had it right after she gave birth - her son got and was really sick - stopped breathing and had to stay in the NICU for over a month. Really once you are older the consequences are pretty bad.

Another friend of mine elected not to do the vaccination - her doctor recommended that she have her son vaccinated if he didn't get it by the time he was twelve.

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A.L.

answers from Anchorage on

Hello J.,

If you're worried about your son being exposed to the chicken pox it is easier when they are small but they do have the vaccine available to prevent the chicken pox although there is a small chance of him still getting it with the shot... the good thing about getting them young is that once exposed he can't get them again although I heard that there is a small chance he could. My 1st son got them when he was 2 yrs. old.. my 2nd baby was exposed to them but didn't get them .. when the oldest was 4 yrs old and 2nd son was 2 yrs old we were at a friend's house where their child had the pox .. 4 yr old didn't get them but the 2 yr old did. When I went on to have 3 more kids I was very thankful that they had the vaccine available and I had the younger 3 vaccinated against the chicken pox and so far they haven't gotten it and today my kids are 19,17,14,12 and 6.
It takes about a week to get the rash after being exposed to the pox so you really don't have any idea about when to send him to school or keep him home ... besides the chicken pox your child will be exposed to a lot of things at school.
I really can't tell you to stop being such a worry wort because being a mom myself that is easier said than done.
Good luck God Bless and take care.
A.

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R.M.

answers from Portland on

Hi J.!
I wrote "our story" about "chicken spots" on another thread here, but as far as kids getting this vs. adults--its WAYYY better. Might as well expose him to it NOW, IF you have the time and endurance, because later, he will miss school, you will be older, and it IS so much more painful as kids get older. My siblings, neighbors and I all had it before age 5 (we all stayed at our house for 2 weeks) and 20 years later, one of my girls got "it", and I just put all of them in the tub (full of finely ground outmeal--in the blender--dry-and then dump in the tub) and used the same washcloth for all kids in the tub. We made it more of a play time--and within 4-5 days, we had 6 kids, all with chicken spots, gallons of calamine lotion, and soft jammies so it wouldn't irritate their skin. Luckily, it didn't diturb their school too much, but it got in the middle of my own pre med finals :(
My point is, if you can control the situation by exposing, and being there, and being ready, it IS a whole lot better than being surprised later on.
Good luck!!
Becca

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M.S.

answers from Portland on

There is a vaccine, and most kids get it at their one year check up. I was very excited to get the vaccine with my first child, but a week before her first birthday, she got the chicken pox! I was very upset, but did some research and was actually very happy (even if it did ruin her birthday party). She had no idea she even had it, and was not at all phased by it. I learned that the vaccine wears off, but because it has not been out very long, no one knows when. What was happening is that the vaccine was making kids immune until they were older and then they were getting bad cases. Now, they do a booster to counter that, but no one knows if these kids will be 60 and have the immunity completely wear off again. Then they risk death with the disease. I much prefer them getting chicken pox where the immunity does not wear off.

My second child is now 2, and I have decided to hold off on the shot until he is between 5 and 10 depending on whether I want him to go into a school that requires it. My hope is that he'll come into contact with the disease somewhere. My doctor thinks I am not making a good choice, but in my research it is the safer alternative. The older a person is when they get it, the safer it is, and the milder it is. Deadly complications are almost all in immunocompromised kids or adults.

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L.S.

answers from Seattle on

I see that you already have a ton of responses so I will keep mine short. I think that it used to be smart to get your child exposed when they are younger but now they have a vaccine. Get your son the vaccine and he will be as safe from getting it later as if he had gotten sick.

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A.D.

answers from Portland on

J.,
Both of my boys have been vaccinated and haven't gotten it. My oldest was exposed from a child at school, but never got it. Our youngest got a huge red spot where the injection site was but never came down with it.
When my father-in-law was an adult he came down with chicken pox and he got really sick. It also took him a long time to recover. I even have an old Poloroid of him titled "The chicken pox kid."
I would have to agree with the doctors about adults getting sicker than children, but I don't agree that they will get it if they are exposed. My son never did and he was exposed before he had the vaccination.
Best of luck.

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C.C.

answers from Seattle on

Exposure is best when young. But if you don't have to put them through it, don't. We had my son vaccinated and are going to with our next one also. I unfortunately had them twice. Once in the 4th grade(minor- only on my feet and stomach) and other time when I was in the 6th grade. When I had them as a older child I had 62 just on my face and neck. The older you are the more sever and deadly they can be. If you or your husband haven't had them, I wouldn't take the risk and just get him vaccinated.

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M.M.

answers from Portland on

Hi J.,

If you're trying to decide between giving your son the vaccine and exposing him to chicken pox, I would recommend exposing him first. If he gets Chicken Pox, he'll be almost 100% protected from it in the future. The vaccination protects most people, but not all.

However, if you can't find another child with Chicken Pox or if he has a playdate, but doesn't get sick, I would recommend you get him vaccinated before first grade.

Chicken Pox is MUCH worse for teens and adults. I wrote this is another post, but my teenage nephew got Chicken Pox when an outbreak occurred in his school in Louisiana - this was last year.

The five boys who got it had not been vaccinated; two were hospitalized. There is a real concern that some might be impotent - Chicken Pox can cause impotency in teen boys who have gone through puberty and men. My nephew was lucky because he is a "late bloomer."

Best wishes.

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J.L.

answers from Medford on

Yes it is true. If you can get him to have them now it is much better than when you're older. You can get it more than once though, if you don't get it bad enough. Most of the time though it is bad enough. If you get them when you are older it turns into shingles. My mom first had chicken pox when she was in her 40's and it was horrible. She was very very sick.

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M.G.

answers from Anchorage on

Kind of a controversial topic these days- vaccinations:)
I had chicken pox when I was 3 and still have scars on my body and a few on my face 23 years later. I think if you're worried about having controll over when he contracts the once "right of passage," disease, then you should vaccinate him. If you're worried about over-exposing him to man-made vaccines, then don't give it to him, but you won't have the controll that you speak of.

Setting up playdates may be a nice way to meet new people, but you may have a difficult time finding a family who's got the pox, and even if you do there's no guarantee that your son will contract the virus. Personally I will say that I think it sounds a little extreme, but I don't think that it will harm your son at all physically- it wasn't all that long ago that nearly everyone had been exposed to it.

My approach to these types of things is to try and let go a little- I literally have to tell myself that. There is really very little that we truly have controll over... One day they could come home with lice or scabies, or lice and scabies.

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H.T.

answers from Seattle on

I tried that with my son but he never got them. Most schools now require the kids to have the chicken pox vaccine before starting school. You might want to check into that. My sons school district didnt require it till 6th grade but some start at kindergarden.

Hope you get the answer you are looking for :)

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S.B.

answers from Corvallis on

Ok, here is the thing with the shot. It does NOT prevent CP, Some kids may never get it, and some might. The shot DOES make it a VERY VERY much less severe case all in all. When my son was 2 he got the shot and he got chicken pox FROM the shot, but that also means that he doesnt have to get another shot. It was pretty mild considering it was the middle of the summer when he got it. I felt so sorry for him. I still get my kids the CP shot knowing this because I know how bad it could have gotten. CP is not just itchyness, you can get really sick from it. If you get a shot, you still have to get booster shots, kinda like with Tetness.

Here is the problem with what people are saying about getting the chicken pox twice. IF you have a mild case, it is just the same as getting the shot once, you can get it again. I had some friends that actually got CP and then a few weeks after they were "better" they got it again! But it was because they didnt get it that bad, but the second time around they were out for like 2 weeks.

My better judgement says, get the shot.. after the shot has kicked in (it is like a month I think) then you can let them play with someone who has CP. Then if they break out, it will likely be a mild case (same as a booster shot)and should be immune for life, BUT that said, there are SOME people who will not retain immunity. I have to get a rubella shot ever so often as I dont keep the immunity over time. (I had rubella (german measles) as a child too, my mom said it made me REALLY sick) I was really supprised last time that I was tested when the nurses said that I didnt need the vaccine, I was really supprised cause I had needed it every other year for 6 years, then when I was tested, I didnt need it I was relieved! Though as far as shots go, it wasnt a bad one. I think flu shots hurt worse!

What I am saying is that my idea is that kids should get the shot, but dont expect for it to PREVENT CP, but just ease up the symptoms. But it will be much better than taking the chance of them getting a severe case (possible life threatening, some cases lead to pnemonia, and other life long issues).
All my kids have had the shot except my baby, and a few months ago the kids played with some of their friends, one had chicken pox, and they were exposed 2 days in a row, and they had NO reaction. I AM going to make sure that my kids get booster shots, and I am also going to allow them to come in contact with CP, but only because they have had the shot. My baby is going to be getting the shot in a month and I am not looking forward to it, but I am glad that she can get it. I have scars, and everyone in my family has scars from CP, most of my friends do too, I would like for my kids to not have to have scars!

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M.D.

answers from Anchorage on

I have heard that saying too. When I was in middle school a friend of mine got chicken pox and she missed at least a week of school. I don't know if it was harder on her physically because she was still young, but missing a week of school was very difficult for her to catch up from. Not to mention how terrifying it is to have acne at that age and then to return to 8th grade with pox still healing on your face.

Also, I don't know how successful you'll be at finding someone with chicken pox for your child to play with. I chose to have my son vaccinated against chicken pox. My husband and I have the outlook of "why go through that if you don't have to" but we also believe in letting their little bodies fight off infection and colds. However, my point is that I haven't heard of anyone having chicken pox for a very long time and I think that is because there is a vaccine available. So, good luck if that is the route you take. A good friend of mine is anti-vaccine, and she always has a lot of trouble with the schools - so be forewarned that you have to be strong about your decision and have to sign the vaccine exemption form, but her kids didn't get the chicken pox until they were 5 & 6.

Good Luck with everything! Also, I hope this message sounds like positive feedback, I get so mad when people write back negative things making you feel terrible when you are just trying to do what you feel is best for your child(ren).

Thanks for listening,
M.

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S.M.

answers from Portland on

there is an imunization for it now.
If you do not believe in imunizations then you will be hard pressed to find someone who's got it. I have yet to find anyone.

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S.W.

answers from Portland on

yes the saying is true as long as they are not an infant. which yours is not. when i got the chicken pox i got it from my cousin and all of us who had not had it yet were put together so we would all get it and get it over with. i remember in highschool we ran a preschool and we had one kid that got it and all the parents wanted to know how so they could take them to see him.

L.U.

answers from Seattle on

hey J., I don't know what school district you are in, but it's required for kids to go to school in Everett, WA. I held off giving my son the vaccine, and then when I went to enroll him in school I was told he had to have it, unless I signed a bunch of papers, blah blah blah. I kind of don't understand it, if you can vaccinate him and save him the pain, then why not?

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J.H.

answers from Portland on

Hello,I have 3 sibblings and as children we all got the chicken pox. Our father hadn't had them although there were 13 children in his family. I was the last to get them, I was the youngest. My father got them after me and he was close to the 40 mark. It was very hard on him. The young childrens diseases are easier on a young body then on an older one. You shouldn't need to go out of your way for you child to get these illnesses since they are around them when they are in school. This is why they are called "childhood diseases".

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L.D.

answers from Medford on

My daughter had chicken pox at at 5 and it was very mild. She got new sores for about 3 days, then began to heal. was a quick process, relatively easy. I had them when I was 14 and it was pretty bad. I was out of school for an entire 3 weeks and was sick and had tons of uncomfortable sores. so maybe the saying is true? all i know is dont immunize for it, we all got it as kids and were all just fine!

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N.Z.

answers from Portland on

Think of the secondary infections they can get. The biggest being Staph, I'd get the vaccince.

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J.B.

answers from Seattle on

J.,

I know several people who got chicken pox as adults and it was quite serious. If you have the opportunity to expose your child now, go for it! We did it with our two kids. We invited the neighbor's toddler over and they all cuddled on the couch, shared apples and water glasses, kisses, hugs, the whole bit. Oddly enough only my son got it then-two weeks later. Not until he was over it did my daughter get it. We were under quarentine for a long time!
I wanted to expose them as youngsters and at a time of year when we had more time to take off work and help them through it. We had some unpleasant days, but it was worth it to me.

But keep in mind if you do expose your child the pox is contagious a day or two before the first spot appears, so be mindful about having your kids play with others who have not or do not wish to be exposed. research the incubation period. I think it is as long as 3 weeks. so if you expose him, pay particular attention to who he is around until he gets it out of curtisy to others.

If he does get it, long warm oatmeal baths are helpful, calamine lotion, special treats like popsicles, extra TV time (and my kids hardly EVER watch TV) It'll be over before you know it!

J.

M.B.

answers from Seattle on

J.,

I am now 27 and was vaccinated when I was a kid. After the vaccination I was exposed to 3 separate cases of chicken pox and have never had the stuff. I'd say, just get him vaccinated.

M.

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K.W.

answers from Seattle on

Hi J.,

My older two had the chicken pox when they were small, and based on the fact that my hubs got them at the same time, and he was MISERABLE, I'd say it's much better if they get it as children, if you go the exposure route. My kids did fairly well, even though theirs was not a mild case.

My youngest was vaccinated when she was a baby and hasn't had them yet, and she's 9. She has been around a couple kids who were in the stage the kid that gave them to my older two kids was in, and she didn't contract them. I got her vaccinated because our doctor said that there are the rare, but existent instances when there will be complications, and the vaccine was insurance against that even far off maybe.

Hope this helps.

K. W

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K.M.

answers from Seattle on

I got the chicken pox when I was 14 years old and it was absolutely MISERABLE. I couldn't sleep for 2 days the itching was so bad. I had them everywhere, even places that you don't usually talk about. My brother and sister got them before I did. They are 4 and 6 years younger and they had it soooo much easier than I did. They didn't come close to the amount that I had. My son had chicken pox at 9 months old. He had 11 chicken pox, and the doctors say that is enough for him to never get it again. So, my opinion is, yes send your son to play with kids that have chicken pox. Getting them earlier is much better than getting them later. If he doesn't get them by the time he is 10 or 11, I would highly suggest getting the vaccine. It will save him much misery.

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A.C.

answers from Eugene on

That is what my mom did with us, however no matter how many children she exposed me to I never did get Chicken pox. It almost seems I had an immunity to it. Now however I am terrified that My children will get it, only because I never have had it and I have heard that its worse when your an adult. So I would reccommend getting them exposed while they are young so its out of the way.

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S.C.

answers from Seattle on

What you heard is correct. Chicken pox is much easier on us when we are young. When we are adults, it actually can be rather severe on our overall physical well being.

Exposing him couldn't hurt and may be beneficial so you can plan it around your schedule. :)

I vaccinated all 4 of my children and have never had to deal with the illness. You may want to consider researching this.

S.
www.DeliveringWellnessToYou.com

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C.P.

answers from Yakima on

Dear Janell;
Yes, the saying is true..the younger the better..for the chicken pox..Some kids get them so lightly..and they leave hardly a mark.. and others get them and they are a mess..
Dont let them scatch them..and use calamine lotion to keep from itching..I had my kids take a bath in just pain old soda..it also helps..they wiil run a fever..and need to be kept outta the sunlite..when chickenpox kids get in the sun..these spots get sun burned in the summer and look a real mess..even after the pox itself is gone..C.
Good luck to you...
And yes, adult onset of chicken pox is horrible for adults..they get them far worse than a younger person..and chicken pox is a member of the shingles family also..
C.

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R.S.

answers from Seattle on

I think you're on the right track, but may have a hard time finding kids with chicken pox these days now that the vaccine is part of the vaccination schedule. You're definitely correct that getting pox as an adult is not a good thing...

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V.R.

answers from Portland on

J.:the fact is true it is easier to have varicella ( chicken pox) as a child but why have it at all when it can be prevented or at least less of a risk? There is a varicella vaccine that will protect your child from the varicella virus; it is a series of 2 vaccines that are generally given 3 month apart. I would recommend you speak with your doctor and get him vaccinated prior to school. If you have discussed this with your doctor already and he did not recommend the vaccine I would look for another provider.If you are on a limited income contact your health department and they can give the vaccine as well.Here's to good health and healthy (and vaccinated ) children. Getting the actual disease of varicella (chicken pox) as a teen or adult has the risk of making your son infertile (not impotent as another perwson responded :there is a difference).Vaccination is less of a risk and provides immunity to most children; and if they contact the virus they generally have s mild case.Vaccinate!
Gina

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E.S.

answers from Anchorage on

I'm not sure if the saying is true or not. My 4yr old son got the shot at 12 mo. So far, so good. My younger son contracted chicken pox at 8 months. He actually broke out when we were visiting family during Christmas--I'm sure we infected lots of people on the plane (as we had no clue at the time he had been exposed and they are the most infectious before they break out). Anyways, it didn't phase him. It was a bummer that the first time my family meets my beautiful baby he's covered in chicken pox. Oh well!

Good luck!

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K.M.

answers from Seattle on

YES!!! My husband's daughter had them just before she turned one and she did not "suffer". Our two children are vaccinated and have been exposed to the virus. Neither of them have contracted it yet and are 9 and 6 years. They also do not have any negative reactions to that or any other vaccination.

My grandmother never had them as a child, so as an adult, she gotten the virus in the form of shingles and has many times (about 3 that I know of). It is painful and inconvenient to be as old as she is and have to deal with the adult version of chicken pox. She is now 92 and still kicking, but the virus is a constant threat to her.

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H.B.

answers from Eugene on

When my kids were really young - they caught it from someone.

I called my sister to tell her because her kids had not had it yet. She insisted on bringing them over to expose them.

We had them take a bath together - it worked - but my poor nieces got it in their mouths - so I would suggest not to have them play in water together! However - the bath (with Epson Salts) helps relieve the itching!!!

It is better to have them when you are younger! Plus you don't want them to miss a lot of school once they start!

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J.L.

answers from Seattle on

Hey there, I haven't read the other responses, but here is my experience.
My oldes son got the chicken pox at 18 months old. It was a piece of cake. The worst part was that he didn't want me to put the calamine lotion on him, so I had to have a friend help hold him down, LOL. That was it.
If you are in WA state, don't let anyone tell you you have to vaccinate for chicken pox. IT'S NOT TRUE. Our state has a religious AND personal exemption. Just flip over the sheet and fill out the exemption box.
I now have a 5y/o and a 3 y/o that I wish would catch the chicken pox so we can get it over with. The problem is too many people are following the herd and vaccinating and it's tougher to catch now.
My plan is to keep them unvaccinated in hopes they can catch it naturally and build a stronger immune system. If, by the time they are teens, and they haven't gotten it naturally, we will visit the possibility of getting a vaccination at that point. But we still might not do it. Stick to your guns mama, build a healthy child! :)

Also, check out this link http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/infections/skin/chicken_... Anyone who has chicken pox naturally, OR has the vaccine can get shingles later. It's just part of being a human being. The symptoms are mild and if taken care of properly, will not become more than mild. People who have major complications generally are already immune compromised due to multiple illnesses, antibiotics, and guess what....vaccinations. If your child is normal, and healthy and you take care of him/her when they get the pox, they will be healthier and stronger for it.

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J.S.

answers from Spokane on

I have heard of that saying since I was a kid, but now they have a vaccination for it and I dont see many kids with it period anymore. I would get your son the vaccination. My daughter is the same age and has already had hers. I would much rather put her through the vaccination (which she does surprisingly well) than to expose her to cp. ( I had it BAD as a kid, still have scars on my forehead, and I was in late elementary when I got them, couldnt imagine getting them so young... how do you tell a 3yo to NOT itch what itches so much it hurts?)
Good luck!

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D.P.

answers from Seattle on

Hi J.,

Yes, the saying is true. I am the mother of four, ranging in age from 5-20. It is much easier when they're young...but it's even easier to have them receive the innoculation. My sister and I had chicken pox as teenagers...and it was AWFUL. Three of my four have had chicken pox and my youngest has been innoculated. The shot is way easier than the virus itself!

Good Luck,

D.

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D.M.

answers from Anchorage on

My older ones got them at 3 and 6 and it was pretty easy. They took lots of baths and lots of icecream! It was pretty much sit around and read or watch cartoons. Which was great because my 1yo and 25yo hubby had it too! The baby was misserable but hubby was very sick for 2 weeks including delirous fevers. You son is at a good age just prepare youself with lots of oatmeal and Aveno.

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S.J.

answers from Portland on

You aren't giving your childs exact age but here is my opinion. Don't get the vaccination if your child is closer to 3-5 years then try to find a pox party. I feel that getting the chicken pox and having a natural immunity to it is better than having the vaccination. If you do go to a pox party, and your son actually catches it, make sure you take him to his Ped. so that it can be documented in his chart. Then you are covered for school. As for the school vaccination requirements if you decide not to do the vaccination then there is a form that you sign stating that it is due to medical or religious reasons. They have to accept this they cannnot turn your child away from school because of it.

Chicken Pox is much worse in adults. It can turn into shingles. A very painful and debilitating disease.

As for how to deal with chicken pox, oatmeal baths! They worked great on my sister and I when we got it as children. I really enjoyed it since I stayed in the bath tub most of the day.

Good luck either way you go.

S.

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