Did you know children could get shingles? I certainly didn’t, not until Daisy had it last week that was.
Daisy is just five years old. A normal, healthy, cheeky five year old who last week came out in a horrible rash. I wasn’t going to write this post but thought it might help someone else identify the symptoms of shingles in children early on:
Last Saturday Daisy woke up covered in scratch marks. It was obvious she had been itching all night and that the scratches were caused by her own tiny nails. She had been scratched by her baby guinea pig the evening before and I thought perhaps they might be related, so I made sure the area was extra clean, put some gentle cream on it and carried on with the day.
All day Daisy was itching and scratching, she was also incredibly grumpy. You can read all about her grumpiness here. That night she went to bed okay but was very restless. The following morning she woke up and where the scratches had been the previous morning, she now had a six inch stretch of tiny blisters which looked very red and angry. I thought it looked like impetigo and knew it was highly contagious so I called 111. They weren’t actually that much help, telling me to call my own GP the following morning. However, they did say I needed to tell them she needed to be seen by 10.30am.
That night Daisy was very restless and woke often, crying out in pain. It no longer itched but hurt instead. This time when she awoke it had spread dramatically. It was now a band from the centre of her chest all the way round the right side, under her arm and running right onto her back. It looked awful and was obviously causing her distress. We called the GP, spoke to a Doctor who told us to come in and see the nurse which we did.
To be honest the nurse was very helpful and was in two minds whether it could be impetigo or shingles. The guinea pig scratch caused her to go for the impetigo diagnosis and Daisy was prescribed antibiotics which she started taking straight away.
The next few days were awful. Daisy awoke every hour during the night crying which was tough on both of us. She was not eating and in lots of pain, sometimes screaming out in agony. On Wednesday evening she was particularly distressed and I was very worried, She also had a temperature. I called the GP again to check whether it was usual to be in so much pain. It had also now spread to her face (a small patch on cheek and her chin) although had not crossed the centre of her body. They said then that it sounded more like shingles and asked us to come in the following morning. This isn’t the best photo (I took it to show her headteacher why she was still off school). It doesn’t show the whole area as it went right round to her back but this is roughly how it looked that day:
It doesn’t cross over the midline of the body, an imaginary line running from between your eyes down past the belly button.
The next morning after another night of being woken every hour, Daisy was complaining her head, legs and arms hurt and that her eyes itched too.
We saw the nurse again first who confirmed that yes, it was definitely shingles. The guinea pig scratch had been a red herring and caused the misdiagnosis. She then brought in two Doctors who agreed with her. They said in adults, if it was after 72 hours they wouldn’t usually prescribe anti virals. However, seeing as she was so young and it was particularly bad, they would give her the opportunity to try them even though it had been five days since her symptoms had started. I am so glad they did because they worked miraculously. That day, we managed to get all four doses in and that night she slept! It was amazing. The pain was greatly reduced, she was much less distressed and of course she woke up happier too. The shingles diagnosis had to be the right one.
Apparently shingles is more common in children who have chicken pox before the age of one year. Daisy caught it from her Sisters at 11 months old so this would fit.
Daisy has now been taking antibiotics for seven days and anti virals for four and is feeling much better. It has all dried up and is looking flatter and slightly less sore. She will be going back to school tomorrow after having a whole week off.
What I will say though, is it is amazing how quickly she has bounced back. She is still complaining of the odd aches and pains in her legs and arms and she is still sleeping a lot…all night plus a little nap in the day but other than that she’s back to being her normal cheeky, mischievous self. Apparently, these aches and pains might continue for a few weeks yet but that is normal and to be expected.
Lets just hope it never comes back again.