Parents worry. Fact. But knowledge is power, so swot up on this need-to-know info to help protect your family

Advert funded, reviewed and approved by GSK in partnership with Boots

What is it?

A usually mild, but highly contagious illness (there’s a case every minute!) caused by the varicella zoster virus, which can often present as red, fluid-filled, itchy spots all over the body. Sufferers can be contagious a few days before symptoms appear.

The 5 main symptoms:

Look out for these classic signs of chickenpox

• Red spots that can pop up anywhere on the body (these fill with fluid, and more blisters might appear as others scab over)

• Mild to severe fever

• Cough and sore throat

• Feeling sick/tired/generally unwell

• Loss of appetite

Talk to your GP or pharmacist if you’re concerned about symptoms.

3 ways you can catch it…

• From an infectious cough/sneeze.

• Through close contact with open chickenpox blisters.

• A mother can pass it to her unborn child via the placenta.

It’s so common in childhood (especially in under 10s) that over 90% of adults have some level of immunity, because they’ve already had it.

Groups most at risk of serious illness/complications:

Babies under one; anyone over 15; pregnant women; people with weakened immune systems.

14-16 days…

is how long symptoms take to show after infection. And it’s most infectious 1-2 days before the rash appears and until all the blisters have scabbed over. Up to 9 in 10 people who come into close contact with an infected person will catch it!

Soothing strategies:

If your little one gets it, give plenty of fluids. To stop them scratching itchy blisters, put socks on their hands at night and cut scratchy nails. At bathtime, pat the skin dry (don’t rub it) and dress them in loose clothes. Age-appropriate paracetamol could help manage symptoms of fever/aches and pains, but ibuprofen should not be taken unless advised by your GP, as it can cause serious skin infections, and do not give aspirin to children under 16.

Help stop the spread:

Learn more about the disease and different ways to help protect yourselves, including information on vaccination. Alternatively, talk to your GP or local Boots pharmacist.


What is it?

An inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord, most commonly caused by bacteria or viruses. It’s serious if not treated quickly, and, although rare, it can also be fatal. The better you understand the risks, the better you’ll be able to help protect your family.

Although 80% of parents associate a rash with meningitis…

...the first symptoms in children/teens/young adults are usually:

• fever
• fever with cold hands/feet

• vomiting

• muscle pain

• headache

Later symptoms can include:

• dislike of bright lights

• convulsion/seizures

• drowsiness and difficulty waking

• confusion and irritability

• pale, blotchy skin

• stiff neck

• spots or a rash that doesn’t change under pressure (press a glass firmly against the rash and if it doesn’t fade, get medical help urgently).

Repeat after us:

Hygiene hygiene hygiene. Why? The common bacteria or viruses that cause meningitis can be easily spread through coughing, sneezing or sharing eating utensils, toothbrushes and cigarettes (exposure to passive smoking can also be a risk factor, according to a recent study).

At least 50 types of bacteria can cause it…

… as well as viruses. Some particularly nasty strains of bacteria can give you meningitis and sepsis (blood poisoning). In fact, a quarter of 15-19-year-olds carry the meningitis-causing bacteria in their throats, which can be passed on by kissing, as well as communal living and sharing food, drinks or drinking straws.

Who is most at risk?

Under-5s, 16-25s, and over-65s, along with those who have compromised immune systems. But anyone can catch it.

Protect yourselves:

Learn more about the different strains of meningitis, and the types of protection, including vaccination.

Trust your instincts. Call 999 or go to A&E immediately if you’re worried your child is seriously ill.

Call NHS 111 or your GP surgery for advice if you’re not sure if it’s anything serious or you think you may have been exposed to someone with meningitis. 

This advertorial has been sponsored, reviewed and approved by GSK. NP-GB-MNX-ADVR-210002 (V2.0), November 2021