As many of you know, my 7 month old daughter recently had chickenpox. It was such a breeze that I felt compelled to share the entire week with everyone on my Instagram stories. Here are my answers to the most commonly asked questions.
How did she get it?
We finally solved the mystery: She got it from her Dad! A few weeks ago, he woke up and found a small rash near his ribcage. It looked like a cluster of bug bites, but it was painful -- nerve pain, tingling. After a week or two, it finally entered the scab phase and that's when Ruby showed her first symptoms of chickenpox. We eventually made the connection and realized that Tyler's "bug bites" were actually a very mild case of shingles. Shingles itself cannot be passed from person to person, but it can still infect someone who hasn't had chickenpox because they are the same virus. When this happens, the virus manifests as chickenpox instead of shingles. So, Ruby caught chickenpox from Dad's shingles.
Chickenpox: Mild. Small round lesions with intense itching.
Shingles: Inflammation of the nerves and a painful blistering rash.
How did you know it was chicken pox?
I first noticed a tiny red bump on Ruby's belly button, but dismissed it as a bug bite. Then, I was gently rubbing her head and I felt another small bump. When I looked more closely, I noticed that it resembled a clear, fluid-filled blister. That evening, she cried on and off for 20 minutes and then threw up all over me. This is when I knew something was off. We went to bed that night and her sleep was restless. When I held her, I noticed that she had a slight fever. The next morning, I found several more spots on her scalp. After 5 minutes of searching online, I matched her symptoms with chickenpox.
The easiest way to know is to watch the progression of the spots. They should start off as small red bumps that look like pimples or bug bites. Then, they develop into fluid-filled blisters which eventually break, leaving open sores. These sores then crust over to become scabs. The rash comes in waves, so your child will likely have spots that are at different points in the healing process -- some just beginning as red spots, some blisters, and some scabs.
Is chickenpox dangerous?
Chickenpox is almost never dangerous, and like other childhood illnesses (measles, for example), it used to be completely normal. In fact, before 1995, only 10% of Americans over the age of 15 had not had chickenpox. Of the 3.7 million cases reported before 1995, there was only an average of 100 casualties -- 50 children and 50 adults, most of which had weakened immune systems.
There have actually been more deaths since introducing the chickenpox vaccine. Here's why: Chickenpox -- like pertussis -- needs to be in the environment so that we're constantly exposed. This exposure acts like a "booster" to maintain our antibodies and keeps us from getting shingles. Historically, only very old people got shingles because they weren't exposed to young children who had chickenpox. Now, we're seeing more cases of shingles in children. This is more of a cause for concern because shingles has a higher morbidity rate than chickenpox.
*Important point: Mild childhood illnesses like these are usually only dangerous for people with weakened immune systems. Ironically, one of the most common ways that we create chronic immune dysfunction is by injecting numerous vaccines while the immune system is still developing.
What are the benefits of being exposed to (and recovering from) chickenpox while we're young?
Chickenpox is known to be more serious for teens and adults than it is for children, so many parents choose to just get it over with while they're young. For me, I'm just grateful that it showed up while I'm still breastfeeding, because I was able to help her through it with my super powerful, nutritious, magic milk! And once recovered, the child is left with long-lasting immunity. There are also several studies showing that febrile infectious childhood diseases like chickenpox and measles are associated with a lower cancer risk in adulthood.
What about the vaccine?
Even before I started my vaccine research, I knew I'd never give my children the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine. Here are some interesting facts:
- The chickenpox vaccine is made form live, attenuated varicella virus. It only provides temporary protection (if any), unlike that of the long-lasting immunity you would have by recovering from chickenpox. The UK and many other countries don't even include it in their vaccination program.
- We are finding more and more outbreaks of chickenpox among the vaccinated. They often appear to be more mild cases, with less spots. Sometimes they won't even progress to the vesicular stage (those fluid-filled blisters!). However, this is not actually a good thing because the disease doesn't get a chance to progress as it would naturally. The body's healthy, natural immune response is changed or blocked by the vaccine. This results in more problems in the long-run.
- From 1990-2015, there were 3,358 serious adverse events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) which were connected with the chickenpox vaccination. 161 of these were deaths. Over half of the serious injuries reported were in children 6 years of age or younger. By 2011, there were nearly 50,000 total reports of adverse events.
- Types of adverse reactions that have been reported include upper and lower respiratory infection, ear infection, anaphylaxis, anaphylactic shock, necrotizing retinitis, aplastic anemia, thrombocytopenia, varicella (vaccine strain), encephalitis, transverse myelitis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, meningitis, pneumonia and herpes zoster (shingles).
- A study in 2002 confirmed that adults exposed to natural chickenpox disease were protected from developing shingles and that there is concern that mass vaccination against chickenpox may cause a future epidemic of shingles, affecting more than 50 percent of Americans aged 10 to 44 years. We've even seen an increase in shingles in infants and toddlers after the introduction of the varicella vaccine.
- I saved the worst for last -- The Ingredients. Aborted fetal tissue from at least two different fetuses, bovine serum taken from the blood of domestic cattle, monosodium L-glutamate (MSG), and on and on. All injected into a small, growing child. No thanks.
Did you use any natural remedies to support her through it?
Yes! As soon as I realized she had chickenpox, I started high dose vitamin c supplementation for myself. Just some powdered C mixed with water, delivered to Ruby via my breastmilk. In addition to this, we did the following:
- Homeopathic remedies. There are several different remedies available for chickenpox, but I would make sure you follow these two important guidelines:
- Wait for the rash to appear all over the body. This way, you won't risk suppressing the illness and you'll have a clear symptom picture to find the right remedy. Which leads me to #2..
- Match your child's symptoms to the remedy. Don't just take a remedy because someone said it helped them with their child's chickenpox. In our case, we waited for the rash to spread and then observed her symptoms: Itchy, worse at night and very restless. We matched her with Rhus Tox. I swallowed a pillule (30c) to give her via breastmilk. It immediately provided her some relief! We then created a water remedy by sanitizing a small dropper bottle, filling it up with filtered water and adding a pillule. I gave her a squeeze of this water remedy whenever her symptoms came back.
- I suggest having two things on hand for treating any childhood illness:
- A Miranda Castro book -- either "Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth and Your Baby's First Year" or "The Complete Homeopathy Handbook".
- This 36 Homeopathic Remedy Deluxe Family Kit. It contains the most commonly used remedies and it's waaay more affordable than buying singles. This kit is worth every penny and will last a lifetime. I recommend it to everyone I know.
- Herbal salve on her spots. We keep this salve on hand for any skin irritation and it worked great for chickenpox! It calmed her skin while promoting healing and preventing scarring. I'm sure you can also use breastmilk, as you would for nearly any skin issue on the planet. ;-)
- We tried one of those famous oat baths that everyone talks about. Just 1/3 cup of organic rolled oats in a small cotton muslin bag, placed in a warm bath. I sat with her in there, gently squeezing the oat bag all over her body and she loved it. Sooo creamy and soothing.
- Anytime my kids are feeling off in any way (teething, illness, emotional, etc), I rub their feet and other acupressure points on the body. There are points all over the body that can provide pain relief, give the immune system a boost and bring the body back into balance. Here are 5 of them.
Did her brother get it too?
At the time of this post -- 9 days after Ruby's first spot -- E hasn't shown any sign of chickenpox. He may still get it in the next week or two. If not, he could be one of those people who have natural immunity to the virus without actually having to go through it. (Crazy, but I've heard several stories like this! Apparently you can get a blood test to confirm.)
Okay, how do I expose my child to chickenpox?!
If you ask other natural-minded parents in your area, you may be able to find a secret "pox party" group. These are groups of people who get together to expose their children. Pox parties have been happening for decades, just ask your Grandma! Or in our case, you could stumble upon someone with shingles. This won't be too difficult, considering it's on the rise. (Urghh!)