Chickenpox is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes an itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters. Chickenpox is highly contagious to people who haven’t had the disease or been vaccinated against it. Today, a vaccine is available that protects children against chickenpox.
The chickenpox vaccine is a safe, effective way to prevent chickenpox and its possible complications.
The itchy blister rash caused by chickenpox infection appears 10 to 21 days after exposure to the virus and usually lasts about five to 10 days. Other signs and symptoms, which may appear one to two days before the rash, include:
- Loss of appetite
- Tiredness and a general feeling of being unwell (malaise)
Stages of chickenpox
Chickenpox develops in stages. Before the rash appears, there may be:
- fatigue or a general feeling of being unwell (malaise)
- fever that lasts 3-5 days and is usually less than 102 °F (39 °C ).
- loss of appetite
- Muscle or joint aches
- cold-like symptoms such as a cough or runny nose
Chickenpox is normally a mild disease. But it can be serious and can lead to complications including:
- Bacterial infections of the skin, soft tissues, bones, joints or bloodstream (sepsis)
- Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
- Toxic shock syndrome
- Reye’s syndrome in children and teenagers who take aspirin during chickenpox
Who’s at risk?
People who are at higher risk of chickenpox complications include:
- Newborns and infants whose mothers never had chickenpox or the vaccine
- Adolescents and adults
- Pregnant women who haven’t had chickenpox
- People who smoke
- People whose immune systems are weakened by medication, such as chemotherapy, or by a disease, such as cancer or HIV
- People who are taking steroid medications for another disease or condition, such as asthma
Treatment in ChickenPox
There is no cure for chickenpox, but it generally resolves within a week or two without treatment.
The following are some treatments that may alleviate symptoms:
- Pain-relieving drugs: Tylenol (acetaminophen) may help reduce high fever and pain when a person . But it is important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and the person’s doctor.
- Avoiding dehydration: It is important to drink plenty of fluids, preferably water, to prevent dehydration
- Sugar-free popsicles: These can help ease symptoms of mouth soreness if there are spots in the mouth. Avoid salty or spicy foods.
- Reduce itching: Itching can become severe, but it is important to minimize scratching to reduce the risk of scarring.
At Amrita Medical Center, our staff is happy to answer any of your questions and help you decide if the right fit for you. We even offer same day appointments for your convenience. Contact us here!