Chickenpox, a common childhood disease. Those who do not develop this disease may fall prey later on in life.
Red, itchy, blisters all over the body are common signs of chickenpox. Learn more about this common infection, chickenpox, through this article.
What is Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a viral infection. It causes an itchy rash that makes the child very uncomfortable. It is very contagious and spreads through coughing, sneezing, touching as well as breathing. This infection is however preventable with the help of chickenpox vaccine.
What Causes Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is spread by a virus varicella zoster virus (VZV). It infects a healthy body by inhaling droplets or touching the fluids from a chickenpox blister. As it is very contagious, anyone who does not have immunity towards the virus can get infected. The infection lasts for about 5-10 days.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is known for some of its classic symptoms. These include:
- Fluid-filled, itchy blisters
- Clear fluid-filled blisters become cloudy in 24-48 hours
- Cloudy blisters then turn dry and form crusty scabs that drop off in a week or so
- Rash appearing on the face, chest, back
- Rash that spreads to all other parts of the body that includes eyelids, mouth as well as genetials
Apart from the blisters and rash, a child may develop other symptoms of chickenpox like:
These blisters generally do not leave scars. However, scars appear after the child scratches on the itchy blisters. Many times, excessive scratching may lead to secondary bacterial skin infection.
Complications related to Chickenpox
Chickenpox is a mild disease that usually does not lead to complications. However, some people are prone to develop complications after an infection. These people include:
- Very young children, that is, infants
- Adults who never developed an infection in childhood
- Pregnant women
- People with weak immune system like those with HIV/AIDS or on chemotherapy, steroids and other immunosuppressive drugs
Chickenpox infection in such cases can lead to severe complications. These include:
- Inflammation of the brain
- Secondary bacterial infection
- Joint infection
- Bone infection
- Death, in rare and extreme cases
What is the Treatment for Chickenpox?
There is no specific treatment for chickenpox. However, there are several things that one should do to get relief from the irritation. These measures include the following:
- Apply calamine lotion on the rash to help relieve itching
- Make the child wear loose, cotton clothes that does not cause itching
- Give the child an oatmeal or cornstarch bath using lukewarm water
- Apply moisturizers to prevent skin drying that increases the itchiness
- Under the guidance of the doctor give the child non-aspirin medication like acetaminophen to help reduce the fever
- Make sure the nails are cut short to prevent the child from scratching the itchy skin
Until and unless the symptoms are very severe, doctors do not suggest any medications. However, in severe infections, antiviral medications may be suggested. The child should be given plenty of fluids to help ease the stomach pain and keep the body hydrated.
Prevention of Chickenpox
Prevention of the disease includes getting two vaccine shots for chickenpox. The majority of the people who opt in vaccination never develop the infection. However, a few may show extremely mild symptoms of the disease. Remember, once a person develops chickenpox, he/she becomes immune to the infection for life. However, the virus remains dormant in the body. Low immunity, fever, stress, emotional distress, malnutrition may trigger the virus to become active and cause a shingles infection. Shingles develops much later in life and many people never develop it. It is also very contagious and can lead to chickenpox in those who never had been infected.
Chickenpox was supposed to be a part of childhood. But the advent of vaccination has taken this painful infection away from a happy childhood. If you are an adult who has never got infected think about getting yourself infected. It is better to be vaccinated than suffer the pain and discomfort. For more information, speak to your healthcare provider.
Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: January 26, 2016