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Chicken Pox and Shingles - A painful and irritating virus affecting children and adults.

Updated on September 3, 2016
Child with chicken pox
Child with chicken pox
Adult chicken pox rash
Adult chicken pox rash

Chicken pox is more correctly known as the varicella-zoster virus which is part of the herpes virus family. The same virus also causes herpes zoster (shingles) in adults.

Essential oils can reduce the severity, duration and effect of Chicken Pox but the actual effects can be different when dealing with a child or an adult.

With children over 4 to 5 the oils can be applied using cotton wool pads, sprays or baths. But for small children under this age it is often easier to immerse the body in a warm/tepid bath (not hot) every few hours, to which the oil has been added.

Ti-tree seems to be the oil of choice although Bergamot and Eucalyptus (also being anti-viral) were used widely. It is a good idea to alternate between the oils.

To make up an oil for the bath use 2 drops each of Ti-tree together with Camomile (to reduce the itching) or try 1 drop each of Bergamot, Lavender, Camomile and Eucalyptus.

For older children use 5 drops each of Ti-tree, Lavender and Camomile in 50ml of witch hazel. Mix and add this to 50ml of rosewater and dab onto the blisters as often as needed to reduce the itching. I would not suggest using camomile lotion as this can clog the pores and actually slow down the healing.

Adults with Shingles can be very ill indeed with high fever and acute pain as the blisters are appearing. Although the use of essential oils can be very beneficial I would suggest referring the matter to your medical practitioner in the first place as shingles in adults can be quite serious.

Particularly for the Zoster virus in Shingles an essential oil blend can be made up using Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum) carrier oil and Ti-tree and Roman Camomile essential oil which can be applied to the affected area.

Again the use of a bath can be very helpful and add 3 drops of Ti-tree oil and 1 drop each of Bergamot, Lavender and Camomile. Make up a painkilling lotion of 6 drops Ti-tree and 10 drops each of Bergamot, Lavender and Camomile to 50ml of witch hazel and water or rosewater. This lotion can also be very useful in the latter stages as it helps final healing and reduces scarring.

Do not give aspirin or ibuprofen (Tylenol can be used) to anyone with Chicken Pox or Shingles and remember in both children and adults the virus is very contagious.

Some sufferers of herpes zoster can find they lose some or all of their eyelashes due to a condition known as Madarosis. Once the disease has been cured the eyelashes will grow back.

There are some proprietary desensitising anti scratch creams and gels available which can be used to good effect.


As many have found to their cost, chicken pox, if badly scratched as a child, can result in heavy deep scars, usually on the face or around the hair line.

In the case of very young children, making them wear mittens with very short cut nails can help.

In adults the best that can be done is to keep nails very short to try an avoid accidental scratches.

Recent medical advances

Shingles rash often appears in regular stripes across the body and can often flare up in older people whose immune system is weakened, as mentioned above.
In Scotland from August 2013 onwards people over 70 are to be offered a single vaccination to protect against shingles. This will be followed by a catch-up programme for people aged 79.

In most cases the virus is destroyed when people recover from chickenpox in their childhood but a small number of residual virus can survive and remain inactive within the nervous system and may reappear as shingles in later life. Shingles is a debilitating condition that is more likely to affect people, and to be more severe, as they grow older. For older people, shingles can be a significant cause of illness and pain, with many people developing a very painful and long lasting condition, called Post Herpetic Neuralgia.

This new vaccine could prevent many people from getting shingles and significantly reduce the number of people that are hospitalised each year. One of the problems with shingles is once you've had it, there is a chance that it could re-occur. This vaccine will also reduce the risk of this happening."

Did you ever suffer from chicken pox as a child?

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© 2012 Peter Geekie


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