Varicella zoster virus (vzv) is the virus responsible disease commonly known as chickenpox. It is usually seen in young children, from the ages of 4 to 12 years.
The period of infection is 10-21 days from the time of contact with an infected person.
- Chickenpox is easily transmitted by coughing, sneezing or getting in direct contact with open sores of an infected person.
It starts with a red skin rash which then develops into tiny liquid filled blisters that itch intensely. The blisters form mainly on the chest and head, sometimes spreading to other parts of the body including the mouth, throat or nose. Within about two to three days, the blisters then begin to break open and become small open sores. They then begin to scab over. It takes approximately seven to ten days for the scabs to fall off after the onset of the initial rash. They heal for the most part without much scarring.
- After a person develops chickenpox there is generally a lifelong protection from further episodes of chickenpox, even if the person is exposed again to an infected person.
- People with suppressed immune systems and pregnant women are at the highest risk for complications.
- Pregnant women who were not previously immune to the disease and developed it during pregnancy can pass the infection to the baby. Depending on when the infection occurs, this can lead to a host of fetal abnormalities including underdeveloped fingers and toes, brain damage, and skin problems. It is essential that pregnant women avoid exposure to any one with chickenpox.
- A reinfection with the varicella zoster virus is possible after the previous infection with chickenpox. When this occurs it is called shingles. This can occur decades after the initial infection.
- A rash which appears like blisters primarily on the upper body and head
- Flu-like symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Discomfort due to intense itching
- Dry cough
- Avoid contact with people who have chickenpox, if possible.
- Avoid direct contact with open sores.
- Avoid contact with any secretions from a person infected with chickenpox.
- Avoid scratching the blisters as this will cause contagious fluid to leak and possibly cause bacterial infection of the sores.
- Exposure to a patient with chickenpox
- Anyone who has not received the vaccination against chickenpox is at an increased risk of contracting the illness.
- People who have compromised immune systems, adults who have never had chickenpox and pregnant women are all at increased risk for developing complications.
- Anyone taking any type of steroid medication for another condition such as asthma are at higher risk because of lowered immune systems. If not vaccinated for chicken pox.
How to deal with chickenpox
- Be well hydrated
- Drink electrolyte solutions like ORS or Electral.
- Measure your temperature
- Take measures to control your temperature
- Do not take antibiotics unless prescribed by a doctor.
- If you are a mom of a child with chicken pox take care of child’s meals, give light and easy to digest meals.
- If your child becomes drowsy seek medical help.
- Chickenpox is a self-limiting disease, usually it goes away in itself without any complications.
- Very high grade fever
- Severe pains
- In ability to move
If you notice these please contact your doctor without delay