Why should you need to know about Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is also known as varicella, which is a highly contagious infection caused by the varicella zoster virus. Although uncomfortable, most people recover within 1-2 weeks.
There is a blister-like rash, which first appears on the face & trunk, & then spreads throughout the body. Although not life-threatening, complications can arise.
Before the rash appears, there will be:
- A general feeling of being unwell (malaise)
- Fever, that is usually worse in adults than children
- Aching muscles
- Loss of appetite
- In some cases, a feeling of nausea
After the rash appears, there will be:
- Rash: Severity varies from a several spots to a rash that covers the whole body.
- Spots: The spots develop in clusters & generally appear on the face, limbs, chest, & stomach. They tend to be small, red, & itchy.
- Blisters: Blisters can develop on the topper level of the spots. These can become very itchy.
- Clouding: Within about 48 hours, the blisters cloud over & start drying out. A crust develops.
- Healing: Within about 1 week, the crusts fall off on their own.
During the complete cycle, the new waves of spots can appear in such cases, the patient might have the different clusters of spots at varying stages of dryness, itchiness, & crustiness.
Chickenpox generally resolves within a 7 to 14 days without treatment. There is no cure, but a vaccine may prevent it.
Your doctor may prescribe the advice or medication you on how to reduce symptoms of itchiness & discomfort, & also on how to prevent the infection from spreading to other people.
Pain or fever: Tylenol (acetaminophen), which is available easily to purchase online, which can help with symptoms of high temperature & pain. It is important to follow the instructions which provided by the manufacturer. Aspirin containing the products should NOT be used for the chickenpox as this can lead to complications. With Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used at any time during pregnancy.
Avoiding dehydration: It is very important to drink plenty of preferably water, fluids, to prevent dehydration. Mostly doctors recommend sugar-free popsicles or Pedialyte for children who are not drinking enough.
Mouth soreness: Sugar-free popsicles help which ease symptoms of soreness if there are spots in the mouth. Spicy or Salty foods should be avoided. If chewing is painful, soup might be a better option, but it should not be too hot.
Itchiness: itchiness can become severe, but it is important to minimize scratching to reduce the risk of scarring.
The following may help prevent scratching:
- keeping fingernails clean & as short as possible
- placing mittens or even socks in hand over a child when they go to sleep, so that any attempt at scratching during the night does not cut the skin
- Applying calamine lotion or having the oatmeal bath to reduce itching
- wearing loose clothing
Antiviral medicationmay be prescribed during the pregnancy, for adults who get an early diagnosis, in newborns, & for those with a weakened immune system. Acyclovir is one example. This works best if it is given within next 24 hours of developing symptoms.
A vaccine is available for varicella. For children, 2 doses of the varicella vaccine are given, one at 12 to 15 months & one at age 4 to 6 years. These are 90 percent effective at preventing chickenpox. In the US, the chickenpox vaccine is routinely given to children regularly.
Adults are more susceptible to the complications than children, but even in adults, they are rare. If the blisters become the infected with bacteria, the risk of complications is greater.
Pregnant women, newborns, & infants up to 2 months old, as well as those with weakened immune systems, are more likely to experience complications. If the skin around the spots & blisters becomes red & tender or sore, they may be infected.
Encephalitis: An inflammation of the brain may occur.
Reye’s syndrome: This rare but serious condition can occur when children & teenagers are recovering from a viral infection, including chickenpox. It causes the liver & brain to swell.
Chickenpox during Pregnancy
During the pregnancy, there is a slightly higher risk of the developing pneumonia with chickenpox. There is also a severe danger of passing the infection on to the fetus.
If infection occurs during the first 5 months of pregnancy, there is a higher risk of fetal varicella syndrome, eye problems, which can lead to scarring, brain drainage, & shortened arms or legs. If the infection happens later in pregnancy, the varicella may be transmitted directly to the fetus & the baby can be born with varicella.
If you become exposed to varicella during pregnancy, whether chickenpox or shingles, it is important to talk to a doctor right away.
Chickenpox develops in stages.
An infected person is contagious about 48 hours before the rash appears. The rash can involve 250 to 500 itchy blisters. Chickenpox continues to be contagious for another 1 week, or until all of the blisters have become scabs.
When all the lesions have crusted over, those infected can no longer pass it on to the others, but individuals with weakened immune systems may be contagious for longer.
Chickenpox is just caused by a virus called varicella zoster. People become infected after being in the contact with an infected child or adult. Chickenpox is one of the most infectious diseases. People who have never had chickenpox & have never been vaccinated are at the highest risk of infection.
A doctor or nurse will know whether a child or adult has chickenpox just by looking & asking a few questions. No extra medical tests are required to aid in the diagnosis. On the rare occasions, chickenpox may be confused with scabies or some types of insect bites.