Chicken pox is a childhood rite of passage which few kids forget and many parents quietly dread. Or so I thought, until a friend recently invited me to a chicken pox party.
Apparently they're all the rage. The idea is that you assemble your kids together for a 'party' - with a kid who is known to have come down with the pesky pox - on the basis that it's somehow 'better' for your kid to catch it sooner rather than later.
While it certainly seems to be the case that catching chicken pox in childhood poses less of a health risk that contracting the illness as an adult, I just don't see the value of knowingly and deliberately exposing my healthy child to any illness.
Interestingly, NHS guidelines on chickenpox state:
"If your child has chickenpox, try to keep them away from public areas to avoid contact with people who may not have had it, especially people who are at risk of serious problems, such as newborn babies, pregnant women and anyone with a weakened immune system (for example, people having cancer treatment or taking steroid tablets)."
Now I fully appreciate that a chicken pox party is a well-intentioned, considerate approach to selectively exposing children to an illness which can have serious complications in adulthood, but I still can't feel ok about taking my unsuspecting tot to a 'party' in the full and certain knowledge that she's likely to pay a nasty price for it a few days later.
Sorry, but that's one party invitation I won't be accepting any time soon. I'd simply rather let nature take its course.
And on a more important note, did you know that you should avoid giving your child ibuprofen to treat the symptoms of chicken pox?
Paracetamol is fine but health practitioners advise against using ibuprofen because of a "very small" (according to the NHS) risk that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDS could cause adverse skin reactions.
That's new to me, and advice which seems to have emerged since my older kids had the pox many years ago, so I'm glad to have been made aware of it before it's my youngest's turn to eat toast in bed and play host to a stream of well-wishers whilst recovering from chicken pox.
But what's your view? Have you held or attended a chicken pox party and if so, why or why not? Share your reasoning in the comments box below or join the conversation on our Facebook page.