What is Chicken Pox?
Chicken pox is a highly contagious disease which mainly affects children aged less than 15 years. Chicken pox is caused by the Varicella Zoster virus and spreads through direct contact, coughing and sneezing. The symptoms of chicken pox generally appear after 10 to 21 days of exposure to the virus. Chicken pox symptoms arrive in 3 stages. Go through the following article to know all about the stages of chicken pox.
The 3 Stages of Chicken Pox
Chicken pox affects a person only once in their lifetime. Chicken pox generally occurs during childhood and rarely does a person remain unaffected by chicken pox till adulthood. Chicken pox is not a chronic health issue and it takes about 7 to 10 days for the infection to resolve. However, at times, severe problems can develop from chicken pox, especially in teenagers and adults. Chicken pox occurs in the following 3 stages:
Stage 1 of Chicken Pox
The 1st stage of chicken pox is characterized by the onset of rashes and boils. Chicken pox infection typically begins with the appearance of small red bumps on the back and head and back. These chicken pox bumps rapidly spread across the entire body including the mouth, eyelids and genitals. The rashes in the first stage of chicken pox is preceded or accompanied by symptoms like fever, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, headache, fatigue and irritability. New rashes continue to appear for 4 to 5 days, and overlap other stages of chicken pox. The duration for which the rash stays determines how long the infectious stage of the chicken pox will last for a person. It is during this early stage of chicken pox that one must take utmost care of the bumps. Bursting any of these chicken pox bumps can lead to scars. The liquid within the bump can spread and cause formation of new bumps on the skin. Therefore, the more cautiously one stays during the first stage of chicken pox, the shorter the duration of chicken pox will be.
Stage 2 of Chicken Pox
The 2nd stage of chicken pox starts when each bump of the chicken pox rash begins to form a thin-walled, clear fluid-filled blister. This clear fluid, called vesicles, turns cloudy as the second stage of chicken pox progresses. These chicken pox bumps gradually grow bigger in size and start causing more pain and irritation. The fluid filled blisters also burst and leak frequently making this chicken pox stage the most infectious period of the chicken pox infection. This period remains for 4-5 days after which pink bumps begin to form. The headache and fever reach their peak at this stage of chicken pox. It is during this contagious stage that chicken pox spreads to the patient’s near and dear ones. Thus, it is advisable that chicken pox patients keep away from others in this infectious stage and get their clothes washed separately.
Stage 3 of Chicken Pox
This is the 3rd and final stage of the chicken pox infection. During this stage of chicken pox, the blisters burst and the fluid dries up. The blisters dry up to become rough skin, which the scalps away. This third and infectious stage of chicken pox ends when the blisters dry to form scabbed lesions. The skin takes many more days to heal completely, but no longer remains infectious. The primary complication of chicken pox is bacterial infection which patients mostly contract during this last stage of chicken pox because of the open sores on the body. If any scab is over 10 mm in size or begins to drain yellow pus, then the patient should seek medical attention.
Duration of Chicken Pox: How Long Does Chicken Pox Last?
The blisters and the severity of chicken pox determine the duration of the chicken pox infection period. Normally, chicken pox persists for a period of 10-12 days, during which all the three stages occur, simultaneously. In severe cases, the chicken pox infection can last for longer. As the infection spreads all over the body in 48 hours, the first stage takes over 1-2 days. The next stage of chicken pox takes 4-5 days; while the last stage of chicken pox requires another 3-4 days. This is the tentative infection period for chicken pox.
Prognosis of Chicken Pox
Chicken pox was considered to be a challenging issue of childhood until the development of the chicken pox vaccine in 1980. But today, with the easy availability of vaccines, this health problem has become less prevalent and more manageable.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chickenpox/symptoms-causes/syc-20351282
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Chickenpox https://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/index.html
- National Health Service: Chickenpox https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chickenpox/
- KidsHealth: Chickenpox https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/chicken-pox.html