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Essex mum warns of the danger of using ibuprofen to treat chickenpox


As chickenpox does the rounds yet again, one Essex mum is warning other parents of the dangers of using ibuprofen to treat its symptoms.

Katie Southgate, who lives in Southend-on-Sea, took to social media to share her experience after struggling to control her infant son’s temperature.

In her post, she says that she was advised to give her son ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug, by four different medical professionals after she couldn’t get his temperature below 38 degrees centigrade.

The mum was told by three doctors and an A&E triage nurse to use ibuprofen with Calpol to control baby Ellis’s high temperature.

Katie was reluctant to administer ibuprofen as she had heard that it can be dangerous when used to treat chickenpox.

“I just wasn’t happy with what they were saying and [Ellis] was so distressed, not eating or sleeping,” said Katie, “so I just went back.”

Risk of complications

It was only at the end of a second long wait at A&E that the family were seen by an on-call paediatrician who confirmed that only Calpol should be used because of the risk of complications.

Katie expressed concern to the paediatrician about her son’s wellbeing because another doctor had given Ellis ibuprofen an hour earlier.

She said: “I asked if Ellis would be OK as they had given him some in A&E and he said to keep an eye on him and if in the next 48 hours temp is still high or spots become inflamed to go straight back and he would be given IV antibiotics.”

Speaking about the rest of her experience with Ellis in A&E, Katie said: “We were stood by the door for about 3.5 hours with his temp so high and the doors open; I was not impressed.

“I asked someone [if there was somewhere to sit] and they said they have no chairs so we just have to wait!”

Ibuprofen and chickenpox

Last month, mum Hayley Lyons’ shared a similar warning about the use of ibuprofen with chickenpox after her son had a reaction to the anti-inflammatory drug.

After taking son Lewis to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Hayley was told that he should not have been given the medication as “it reacts with chicken pox making them go deeper into the skin tissue.”

In her post, Hayley said: “Four different doctors from our local hospital (out of hours) prescribed it for Lewis as we couldn’t get his temp down. They even administered it to him in A&E.”

A spokesperson for Nurofen for Children (which contains ibuprofen) said: “The NHS advises paracetamol is the preferred painkiller for treating the associated symptoms of chickenpox.

“This is due to a very small risk of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, causing adverse skin reactions during chickenpox. However, reactions of this type are extremely rare.”

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