Chicken Pox - Health Center

Chicken Pox

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Chicken Pox - Overview

Chickenpox, scientifically known as Varicella has emerged out to be a common illness affecting almost everyone. The major symptom for this disease is the itching rashes as well as red spots all over the skin which often tend to convert into blisters all over the body.

Children are best known to suffer from this in their childhood. Though not considered to be a life threatening and serious problem, if untreated, chickenpox can emerge to be hard to fight for people having a weak immune system.

A person who has suffered from it once is very less likely to get it again during their lifetime. However, there have been cases where the virus has remained in the body of the person and then activated again after sometime, creating a problem known as Shingles.

Patients suffering from Chicken pox, develop blister like rashes all over their skin. These rashes generally develop on the face and trunk in the beginning and then spread to the rest of the body. Typically, there are 250- 500 blisters on a person’s body while suffering from the disease.

Since Chicken pox is an air borne disease, it can be easily spread from one person to another via coughing, sneezing or by getting in touch with the secretions from the blisters. Varicella, the virus responsible for the disease has an incubation period between 10 to 21 days after infection. A person infected with the virus remains contagious for two days before the appearance of the rash and after that again for four to five days.

When all the major lesions over the body have crusted, then the virus can no longer be infectious to others.

Signs and Symptoms of Chicken Pox

The occurrence of Chicken pox can be easily found out by the following symptoms:

Symptoms before the occurrence of rashes:

1. A general uneasiness and feeling of restlessness
2. Normal to mild fever
3. Regular ache in body muscles
4. Loss of appetite
5. Seldom a feeling of nausea

Once these beginner’s symptoms disappear, they are followed by other general symptom such as:

1. Itchy Rashes: The severity of these rashes may differ from one person to the other. While some patients only have a few spots as rashes, other has rashes covering their entire bodies.

2. These spots generally occur as clusters all over the body. Generally, these spots may occur behind the back of the ear, on the face, all over the scalp, limbs, chest, and stomach as well as under the arms.

3. In the initial stages of chicken pox, these small spots can cause a lot of itching. Furthermore, they later develop into spots along with the blisters on the top and can be very itchy.

4. Within a period of 48 hours, the blisters can cloud over and then start drying out, forming a crust.

5. After ten days, the crusts often dry off and fall.

In some of the cases, the spots can also occur inside the mouth of the patient, the palm of the hands or on the lower side of the feet. During the occurrence of the new spots, the patients may also have different stage of clusters with a varying amount of itchiness, dryness as well as crustiness of the blisters.

Causes of Chicken Pox

As is known by people all over the world, the virus by the name of Varicella Zoster is the cause for the occurrence of Chicken Pox. People can become infected after coming in contact with the infected children or adults.

Chicken pox is known as one of the most infectious diseases all over the world. Around 90% of people who have never suffered from this disease or have not been vaccinated against it can become infected once they get in touch with the Varicella Zoster virus.

Chicken Pox spreads in a way similar to cold and flu. Usually, the droplets of water that are often expelled from the nose or the mouth of the infected person through coughing or sneezing, when inhaled by the healthy people around, causes Chicken Pox. The air surrounding the person suffering from the disease is contaminated with the virus as the droplets float in the air. Research has even shown that when these contaminated droplets land on the surface of the objects, then they too can emerge to be the sources of infection to other people upon touching.

Some people, who have never had Chicken Pox or have not been vaccinated against it, can catch the disease from people suffering from Shingles. Shingles is a disease that too is caused by the Varicella Zoster virus. However, the chances of people catching Shingles from somebody with Chickenpox are unheard of!

Diagnosis Of Chicken Pox

A doctor is able to diagnose the condition of a person suffering from Chicken pox by just looking at the child and asking a few simple questions. In many cases, no specific tests are required for the diagnosis of the disease.

In some of the rare cases, Chicken pox has been confused with Scabies or some kind of insect bites.

Treatment For Chicken Pox

Usually, Chicken Pox can be healed anytime between one or two weeks without the prescription of a kind of medical treatment. There are no known cures for the disease.

Upon the consultation of the doctor, there may be some prescriptions of medicines that can reduce the itchiness as well as discomfort of the patient as well as reduce the spread of the diseases from one person to the other.

Treatment of pain and fever: For the treatment of the pain and fever in the case of Chicken Pox, a prescription of paracetamols such as Tylenol and Acetimophen or Ibuprofen can help to decrease the high temperature of the patient along with the pain. In case of pregnant women, paracetamols are only to be taken during the 14 to 27 weeks of pregnancy.

Dehydration: It is often recommended that patients suffering from Chicken Pox should be taking plenty of water and fluids in order to prevent dehydration. It is recommended by doctors that sugar free icy liquids should be given to children who are not drinking enough water.

Soreness of the mouth: Popsicles are quite helpful in order to ease the soreness of the mouth for people suffering from the disease. During the period of the disease, it is recommended to avoid eating spicy and salty foods. Sometimes if chewing proves to be too painful for the patients, then soup should be taken in abundance.

Itchiness: Itchiness can come out to be severe in case of Chicken pox. The patients are often left with an urge to scratch, which has to be avoided on all extents. It is very important to make sure that scratching is down to the minimum. The following measures are best done for people suffering from Chicken Pox:

  • Keeping short and clean fingernails
  • For children, it’s better to cover their hands with mittens/gloves while they go to sleep in order to prevent scratching at night.
  • Calamine lotions in order to soothe the itching sensation.
  • Wearing loose and cotton clothing is beneficial as well.

Antiviral Medication: People who suffer from a low immune system are often prescribed with an antiviral medicine. Drugs such as Acyclovir are best known to help the patients in order to soothe them. The drug needs to be administering within the first 24 hours of the emergence of rashes. Also, the drug is beneficial in order to reduce the severity of the symptoms as well as needs to be taken five times a day for a period of one week.

Immunoglobins: Immunoglobins have emerged to be the latest trend in the market for the treatment of Chicken Pox. This usually contains VZIG (Varicella – zoster Immunoglobins). Often taken from healthy people it contains the antibodies for the chicken pox disease. Immunoglobins are often administered to the people who are suffering from a high risk rate of acquiring the disease or exhibiting the symptoms of the same.

Complications Arising From Chicken Pox

Though children suffer from the disease more, adults are more susceptible to the complications arising from the disease. Sometimes, the blisters can become infected with the bacteria and come out to create greater complications. Pregnant women, newborns as well as infants; who suffer from a weakened immune system are the ones that suffer from greater complications.

According to a worldwide survey conducted, it has been found out that between 5% to 14% adults who have suffered from the disease tend to develop the chances of pneumonia. The chance rate for this goes out to be even more for people who are smokers.

Pregnant women are at a greater chance of developing pneumonia. The severity of this condition can be totally dependent on how many weeks she is into her pregnancy. Also, there is a great chance of passing the infection from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby. There have been cases in which the unborn baby has developed symptoms such as scarring, cataract as well as other eye problems or short arms/ legs. Also, the foetus carrying the virus can have a greater chance of developing the symptom of premature birth.

There have been instances where people suffering from the complications of the disease can develop meningitis, blood poisoning or pneumonia.

Preventive Measures of Chicken Pox

Chicken pox vaccine has come out to be the best recommendation by the doctors in order to prevent the disease.

Though the usage of the vaccine is higher in USA and other parts of Europe, it is best recommended by doctors to children who are susceptible to develop the disease or have a weaker immune system.


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