Published on Jan 17, 2018 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018 - 3 min read
This article addresses the causes, symptoms, spread, risk factors, complications, and treatment of chickenpox.
Chickenpox is a common childhood viral disease, that develops in persons not previously exposed to chickenpox, not vaccinated against chickenpox and in recent contact with persons having chickenpox or shingles. Although it is more common in children from 5 to 12 years of age, it can occur in any age group including adults.
It is an infection that classically presents with rashes and fever. It is caused by a virus called varicella zoster. This infection has an incubation period of seven to 21 days, meaning it may take up to those many days for symptoms to appear after the virus enters the body.
Itchy rashes are the primary symptom. Other symptoms can appear earlier, even before the appearance of rashes:
The rashes go through different stages namely:
This process takes about a week. They usually start to appear in the head and trunk and then spread to the arms and legs. Since the new rashes develop in waves, there are multiple rashes all over the body each at a different stage. Most cases of chickenpox get completely cured in a period of two weeks.
Direct spread through skin to skin contact, or contact with oral droplets during coughing and sneezing, or touching the fluid from the blisters.
Indirect spread through contact with contaminated objects such as doorknob, clothing, and toys.
A person with chickenpox usually recovers without any antiviral treatment. But antivirals are given in case of persons at high risk of complications such as:
Varicella vaccines are available as a combination and are part of the regular immunization schedule regime in most countries. The first dose is given at 1 year and the second booster dose is given at 4 years. For non-vaccinated adults in close contact with infected children or adults, the vaccine can be given any time required.
The prime requirement in home management will be to care for the itchy blisters.
Antivirals such as Acyclovir is prescribed if the patient is in the high-risk category. If not, the infection is allowed to run its course.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever and pain.
- Antihistamine to control the itching.
- Lacto calamine to soothe the skin.
Chickenpox during pregnancy is associated with a lot of serious risks. There is a higher risk of the mom developing pneumonia. She can pass on the infection to the fetus as well (known as fetal varicella syndrome) causing birth defects.
See the doctor if:
For more information consult an infectious diseases specialist --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/general-medicine-physician/infectious-diseases
Query: Hello doctor, I felt the head of a young girl then hugged her for a second in the same room for three to four minutes. The next day, she broke out with chickenpox. What are my chances of getting the chickenpox and will getting the vaccine seven days later help me? Read Full »
Query: Hi doctor, I am 21 years old. My weight is 48 kg. I am 3 months 2 weeks pregnant. Now, I got chickenpox. I am very anxious about the adverse affect for my baby. I have visited a gynecologist and she suggested me to get abortion. Please clarify me the right step. Read Full »
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