Varicella or Chickenpox: Symptoms, is it Contagious, Treatment, Prevention, Coping Tips
What Is Varicella or Chickenpox?
This is a pathological condition caused by a virus called varicella-zoster. Chickenpox at one time was a common disease which was prevalent among children under 11 years of age in the United States. This disease consists of an extremely itchy rash or blisters which are spread all over the body along with certain symptoms of flu. Varicella or Chickenpox is an extremely contagious disease and the infected child should be kept at home, preferably in a room until the rash disappears. Protection is available from Chickenpox in the form of varicella vaccine which greatly decreases the chances of getting infected with Varicella or Chickenpox. In case if a vaccinated child does get Chickenpox then the symptoms will be much milder and less discomforting and the recovery period will also be very fast.
What Are The Symptoms Of Varicella Or Chickenpox?
Varicella or Chickenpox basically starts with headache, sore throat, and fever. The fever may range from 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit. Then here will be development of red itchy rash which will begin in the abdomen or the back and then rapidly spreads throughout the body. The rash will look like small bumps on the skin which will resemble an insect bite and will then progress to thin blisters. Over time as the disease progresses these blisters will break and form a crust and become dry. The rash is extremely itchy and discomforting and usually calamine lotion is given to manage the itching caused by the rash. The characteristic feature of Varicella or Chickenpox is that the rash, blisters, and bumps all form at the same time. In children with a compromised immune system the rash can be severe and more extensive
Is Varicella or Chickenpox A Contagious Disease?
As stated, Varicella or Chickenpox is an extremely contagious disease. This virus spreads through both air as well as by direct contact in the form of mucous, saliva etc. This virus is extremely contagious from a couple of days before the rash appears to until the blisters become crusted. An infected child needs to be kept at home preferably in a room and not be allowed to go out until all the blisters have dried. Varicella or Chickenpox is so contagious that if a child gets Chickenpox then it is more often certain that if there is a sibling then he or she will also get it. If a child in the household has Chickenpox then others need to make sure that they wash the hands thoroughly, especially with eating and using the restroom.
What Are The Treatments For Varicella Or Chickenpox?
Antibiotics are not given for treatment of Varicella or Chickenpox as it is a viral infection, although antibiotics may be required if the sores or blisters get infected by bacteria, which is quite a common occurrence since the child may scratch the blisters resulting in bacteria infecting the blisters. Antiviral will be prescribed for treatment of Varicella or Chickenpox. The exact medication depends on the age of the child and his or her health status.
Prevention Of Varicella or Chickenpox
The varicella vaccine is effective in preventing chickenpox in about 99% of cases. Pediatrician recommends the vaccine be given twice, once at one year of age and another at around two years of age in addition to a booster at the age of about six. In cases of adults who have not been vaccinated, they need to get the vaccine twice about a month apart to get protected from Varicella or Chickenpox. In case of a vaccinated individual gets Chickenpox then the symptoms will be very mild and the recovery period is extremely quicker. Once a kid has already had Varicella or Chickenpox then vaccination is not necessary as Chickenpox does not recur.
Do's And Don'ts For Varicella or Chickenpox
Varicella or Chickenpox is a very discomforting disease and causes lot of pain. In order to deal with this, certain measures are suggested below:
- For the first few days of disease, use hot-cold compresses or give baths lukewarm water every three hours.
- Avoid rubbing the body and pat the body dry.
- Use calamine lotion in the areas which are itchy to control the itching sensation
- Eat a bland diet with no spice or excess salt.
- In case of blisters in the genital areas, applying cream might help.
- One can also use acetaminophen for pain relief.
- If the itching is extremely severe then the treating physician may prescribe some medication orally to control it.
- Never use aspirin products to control fever caused due to Varicella or Chickenpox as it may lead to potentially serious complications.
- Do not scratch the blisters. It may be difficult for the children, so it is best to put some protection in the form of a cloth on their hands so as to prevent them from scratching the blisters.