Chickenpox is an extremely contagious viral infection that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus but can be prevented with vaccination. It is spread by close contact with an infected person. The mode of transmissions are:
- By airborne respiratory droplets (coughs or sneezes)
- By saliva (kissing or shared drinks)
- By skin to skin contact (hugs and handshakes)
- By touching contaminated surfaces (doorknob or blanket)
- From mother to baby during pregnancy, labor, and breastfeeding
Symptoms of Chickenpox
The signs and symptoms of chickenpox include:
- Itchy blister-like skin rash that leaves spots all over the body: The itching starts on the back, belly, and face, then spread to the scalp, mouth, arms, legs, and genitals. The appearance of rashes occurs in 3 stages: small red bumps, blisters, and brown scabs. The three stages can occur on the skin at the same time. The rash appears as small red bumps that look like pimples or insect bite. Then within 2 to 4 days, they develop into blisters that break, leaving an open sore that crusts and becomes dry brown scabs.
- Fever of over 38°C
- Sore throat
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite in children
- Irritability in children
Who is at risk for chickenpox?
Even though the varicella-zoster virus is the cause of chickenpox, certain factors promote the risks of being infected, such as:
- A weakened immune system, e.g., HIV patients
- Being on immunosuppressant
- Being pregnant
- Being a newborn with a mother with chickenpox or a mother who has never been vaccinated
- Not being vaccinated
Complications of chickenpox include:
What is the best treatment for chickenpox?
There are some things that you can do to treat to chickenpox and help to ease the itch and prevent scratching of the skin, such as:
- Antiviral medication: Acyclovir and Valacyclovir
- Calamine lotion
- Daily cleaning of your skin with warm water to avoid secondary bacteria and ease itching
- To reduce fever: paracetamol
- Secondary skin bacterial infections: antibiotics
- Baths with oatmeal can help
- Taking baking soda baths
The most excellent way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. Other common prevention of chickenpox is the timely diagnosis of the disease, and isolation of the patient to avoid the spread of infection.
- Chickenpox is the name of the first infection by the varicella-zoster virus, and Shingles Is the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (second infection).
- Chickenpox is contagious for about a week. It becomes contagious from about two days before the rash starts until the rash crust and become dry scab (which takes approximately a week).
- The rash appears 10 -21 days after exposure to varicella-zoster virus.
- Chickenpox vaccines are not recommended for pregnant women, those allergic to neomycin or gelatin, and those with weakened immunity.
- Avoid aspirin use in order to prevent Reye syndrome, which is a rapid deterioration of the brain and liver.