Dozens of small, red bumps and blisters scattered across the body bring back long-forgotten memories of the itchy illness that affected most of us as children: the dreaded chickenpox. Highly contagious, infected children can spread the chickenpox for four to six days, says paediatrician Hermann Josef Kahl. “Children should stay at home until the last of the blisters are gone,” he said. The only exception is for a visit to the doctor’s office. Hermann Josef Kahl recommends parents phone ahead if they suspect their child has chickenpox. This ensures that clinic staff can make accommodations and prevent other children from becoming sick. When it comes to the chickenpox virus, only the symptoms can be treated. Special lotions can be dabbed on the bumps to help relieve itching. Kahl warned that parents need to keep a watchful eye on their children to keep them from scratching. “It can easily cause scarring,” he warns. There is a vaccine that can be given to children between 11 and 14 months of age, and has been recommended by Germany’s health science institute, the Robert Koch Institute, since 2004. The vaccine is well tolerated, Karl said. Some children experience fever, redness and swelling at the injection site, but those side-effects don’t happen often. Overall, cases of the chickenpox are becoming less frequent, Karl said. For adults who never had chickenpox as a child, Kahl advises that they get vaccinated. Those who had the virus as a child acquire lifelong immunity to chickenpox. Some viruses refuse to be forgotten – even into adulthood. The chickenpox virus can camp out in nerves of the spinal cord or brain and activate when a person’s immune system is weakened. That is what causes shingles.