Does chicken pox happen to everyone? It is mandatory for almost everyone to suffer from chickenpox once in their lifetime. I was infected with this viral disease at the age of seven, but I merely remember the severity of it. However, recently when my niece suffered from chicken pox virus, I then realized how much of pain and agony it involves; and I tell you it really shook me. It was a horrible sight watching my little niece suffer that way.
Hence you must have sufficient knowledge on the causes of chickenpox. So let us see in details what exactly is chickenpox, what causes chickenpox and what are the symptoms of chicken pox.
What is Chickenpox?
Chickenpox (varicella) is a viral infection that causes an itchy, blister-like rash all over the body, accompanied by fever, headache, body pains, etc are the few chicken pox symptoms.
Majority of people get chickenpox in their childhood phase. It is best though to get done with it as a child as the severity of the infection passes by unknown while we have our elders to pamper and take care of us. However chickenpox is highly contagious to people who haven’t had the disease before nor been vaccinated against it. Once you are infected by it, your body acquires resistance to the virus known as varicella zoster virus.
But, in some cases after chickenpox has been cured, the virus may still remain in the nerves in dormant stage for a long period. This virus may get active and can cause a painful viral infection called shingles at some later stage in life. For most people, chickenpox is a mild disease. Still, it’s better to get vaccinated. The chickenpox vaccine is a safe and an effective way to prevent chickenpox and its possible complications.
Chicken Pox Causes and How Does it spread?
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella zoster virus which can spread easily. You can catch chickenpox from an infected people through their sneezing, coughing or sharing of food and drinks with them. Another way in which you are more likely to develop chickenpox is if you touch the fluid from a chickenpox blister of an infected person.
A person having chickenpox can spread the viral infection even before he or she has any symptoms. Chickenpox is most easily spread from 2 to 3 days before the rash appears until all the blisters have crusted over. You are at risk for chickenpox if you have never had the illness and have not had the chickenpox vaccine. If someone you live with gets chickenpox, your risk is even higher because of the close contact.
Chicken Pox Symptoms
Most children with chickenpox have the following symptoms before the rash appears:
The chickenpox rash occurs about 10 to 21 days after you come into contact with someone who had the disease. Before the blisters appear, you will first observe the primary symptoms of chickenpox such as fever, reduced appetite, headache, cough, cold and sore throat. The itchy chickenpox rash usually starts appearing 1 or 2 days after the primary symptoms occur.
Each chickenpox red spot usually takes about 1 or 2 days to go through all its stages which includes blistering, bursting, drying, and crusting over. However new red spots will keep appearing every day for almost up to 5 to 7 days. Hence it generally takes around 10-15 days for all your chickenpox blisters to appear and go. On an average, a child develops 250 to 500 small, itchy, fluid-filled blisters over red spots on the skin.
- The blisters are usually first seen on the face, middle of the body, or scalp.
- After a day or two, the blisters become cloudy and then scab. Meanwhile, new blisters form in groups. They often appear in the mouth and on eyelids.
- Children with skin problems, such as eczema, may get thousands of blisters.
Most chickenpox will not leave scars unless they become infected with bacteria due to scratching. During the time when you are suffering from chickenpox, you need to take complete rest. Children can’t attend school nor can adults go to their workplace as they are susceptible to spread the infection. Proper adequate rest will help in speeding up the healing process. After the viral infection is completely cured, you may resume your daily routine activity.
Healthy children may not be required to visit a doctor. The medication can be discussed over a phone. But in case of children with poor immunity, teenagers, adults and pregnant women need to see a doctor for chickenpox. There are chicken pox vaccine and vaccinations which helps in chicken pox prevention.
Note: Chickenpox during early pregnancy can cause birth defects, hence pregnant women must visit a doctor and chicken pox treatment should be taken.
Risk Associated with Chickenpox
Chickenpox is a very common viral infection that almost everyone goes through. However some people may be at risk depending on when or what stage of their life cycle they get chickenpox.
Those at high risk of having complications from chickenpox include:
- Newborns and infants whose mothers never had chickenpox or the vaccine
- Pregnant women who haven’t had chickenpox
- People whose immune systems are impaired by medication, such as chemotherapy, or another disease, such as cancer or HIV
- People who are taking steroid medications for another disease or condition, such as children with asthma
- People taking drugs that suppress their immune systems
Some children who have had the vaccine will still develop a mild case of chickenpox and still can spread the infection to others. I hope now you are well equipped with the causes of chickenpox and chicken pox symptoms. Watch this space for my next article on treatment and home remedies to limit the severity of chickenpox.
Who suffered from chickenpox lately in your family and how did they cope up with it? Please share with us in the comments below.
Photo courtesey: remediesmag.com