What Does Chickenpox Refer To?
Chicken pox refers to a viral infection caused by the varicella zoster virus.(1) Chicken pox is mostly seen in children, but adults may also get infected if they come in direct contact with an infected person. The primary presenting feature of chicken pox is small rashes all over the body that become fluid filled and are extremely itchy.(1)
Chicken pox is an extremely contagious condition and can spread easily to other individuals.(1) Thus, it has become mandatory for people to have a chickenpox vaccine to prevent the spread of the infection.
How Does Chicken Pox Spread & Who Is At Risk For It?
An individual may also spread the virus causing chickenpox when he or she sneezes and an uninfected person inhales the air droplets.(1) There are also certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of an individual for getting chickenpox. If an individual has not had a chickenpox ever and has not been vaccinated, then there is increased chance of that individual getting this infection.
Additionally, infants whose mothers have never had chicken pox are also vulnerable to it. Teenagers and adults tend to get chicken pox if they have not been vaccinated and spend a lot of time in environment where the virus can be spread. Chickenpox also can affect pregnant females who have never had this infection before.(1)
Smokers are also at increased risk for getting chicken pox along with people who have a compromised immune system or have underlying disease conditions like HIV or cancer.(2) Individuals on steroids for conditions like asthma are also at an increased risk for getting chickenpox.
Persistent and severe sensation of itching is one of the biggest problems that people with chickenpox face.(3) This article highlights some of the ways to control the itching that occurs due to chickenpox.
Home Remedies to Control Itching from Chickenpox
There are a host of home remedies, which can be used to effectively control itching that occurs during chickenpox. These home remedies include:
Bathing: Warm and cool baths for 15-20 minutes as much as possible is an effective way to control the itching caused due to chicken pox.(4) Water soothes the skin surface decreasing the urge to itch the area. In cases of infants and children, ensure that they are properly monitored when taking baths.
It should also be noted that no soap should be used when bathing to prevent worsening of chicken pox. If required, only mild soap meant for babies can be used.(4)
Additionally, oatmeal can be added to the water before bathing to control the itching from chicken pox.(4) After bathing, just pat the body dry and never rub the skin.
Cold Compresses: Applying cold compresses is also quite an effective home remedy to control the itching caused by chickenpox.(4) Just take a soft cloth and soak it wet in cool water. Apply it directly on the itchy areas. Doing this for 15-20 minutes two to three times a day is good enough to control the itching from chicken pox.
Oatmeal Paste: Making an oatmeal paste and applying on the itchy areas of the skin also is a useful home remedy for controlling the itching caused by chickenpox. To make an oatmeal paste, grind some oatmeal and make it into a powder. Then mix some warm water and make a paste of it to use it for relieving itching from chicken pox. This oat meal paste should then be applied to the itchy areas of the body and allow it to stay there for at least 15 minutes. Wash the area and pat it dry. Repeat the same process two to three times a day for a few days till the chicken pox itching comes down.
Wear Loose Garments: There are also certain things that can be followed to control the itching due to chickenpox. The affected individual should avoid wearing tight fitting clothes as it will further irritate the skin.(4) It is mandatory to change linens and bed sheets used by the patient on a daily basis to prevent the worsening of chickenpox itching.(4)
Avoid Hot & Humid Climate: It is also necessary to avoid hot and humid conditions as they lead to perspiration and further irritate the skin and worsen the itching of chicken pox. Maintain caution when using anti-itching lotions and ensure there are no antihistamines, as they can further worsen the condition.(4)
Lotions: There are plenty of lotions available in local pharmacies that soothe the itchy skin caused by the blisters of chickenpox infection.(4) Calamine lotion is the most preferred and effective lotion to control the itching from chicken pox. However, the physician needs to be informed before starting any medication or lotion for chickenpox.
In conclusion, chickenpox is a viral infection mostly seen in children, but adults can also get it. Chickenpox is caused by varicella zoster virus and is an extremely contagious condition and can spread from one person to another by direct contact or by inhaling droplets that come out during coughing or sneezing. Severe sensation of itching is the primary presenting feature of chickenpox. However, this can be controlled to a great effect by following certain home remedies as explained above. There are also certain precautions that should be followed while practicing these home remedies to not only make them more effective but also prevent any worsening of the condition.