Do you know that Chicken Pox is a highly contagious infection?
Chickenpox, also known as Varicella, occurs due to infection: the varicella-zoster virus.
Though the symptoms are uncomfortable, however, in most cases, people recover within 1 to 2 weeks.
Moreover, chickenpox is a viral infection that causes a blister-like rash and it first appears on the face and trunk.
It then tends to spreads throughout the body.
However, it is important to note that among people who are not vaccinated, it can be extremely contagious.
Although this condition is not life-threatening, it can sometimes cause complications.
Furthermore, it is rare for chickenpox to occur more than once.
With the help of vaccines, it can help protect your child and you.
Routine vaccination is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.
This vaccine is a safe, effective way to prevent chicken pox and its potential complications.
Keep on reading.
Symptoms of Chicken Pox
An itchy rash is one of the most common symptoms of chicken pox.
The infection will have to be in your body for around seven to 21 days before the rash and other symptoms appear.
However, you start to be contagious to those around you up to 48 hours before the skin rash starts to occur.
The non-rash symptoms can last a few days and include fever, headache, and loss of appetite.
One or two days after experiencing these symptoms, the classic rash will begin to develop.
Moreover, the rash goes through three phases before you recover.
Stages of Chicken Pox
Stages of chickenpox are:
- You develop red or pink bumps all over the body
- These bumps become blisters filled with fluid that leaks.
- The bums, then become crusty, scab over, and begin to heal.
The bumps on your body will not all be in the same phase at the same time.
Furthermore, new bumps will continuously appear throughout the infections.
The rash may be very itchy, especially before it scabs over with a crust.
You are still very contagious until the blisters on your body have scabbed over.
The crusty scabbed areas will eventually fall off and take seven to 14 days to disappear completely.
Symptoms in Adults
The chickenpox symptoms in infected adults who do not get the disease as children may be very similar to symptoms in children.
However, they can be more severe.
If you are not vaccinated or immunocompromised, you are more at risk.
Some adults may not develop a rash and if they do develop it, the rash may spread in the same way.
However, if they do get a rash, it may leave deeper marks and scars on the skin.
Moreover, adults are also more at risk for complications like pneumonia.
Causes of Chicken Pox
the infection of varicella-zoster virus, VZV causes chickenpox.
Moreover, most cases tend to occur through contact with an infected person.
This virus is also contagious to those around you for one to two days before your blisters appear, and VZV remains contagious until the blisters crust over.
Additionally, this virus can spread through:
- contact with fluid from the blisters
It is important to note that this virus belongs to the family of herpes viruses that also includes herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, Epstein-Barr virus, and others.
There are more than 100 viruses in the herpes family and they mostly affect the skin, mucus membranes, nerves, and tissues.
Transmission of Chicken Pox
Chickenpox is one of the most infectious diseases, and if never had it, then you have never been vaccinated.
Or you may have a compromised immune system that puts you at a higher risk of infection.
The transmission tends to happen through direct contact between those either through coughing, sneezing, or by air.
VZV can also cause other conditions like shingles or herpes zoster.
You can also get chickenpox if you come in contact with fluid either from the chickenpox or shingles blister.
Chicken Pox and Weak Immune System
The risks of contracting chickenpox and the development of complications are higher if you have a weakened immune system.
This weak immune system can result if you:
- are taking certain medications
- have cancer
- in undergoing treatments like radio or chemotherapy
- has certain chronic conditions like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- other chronic illnesses like uncontrolled diabetes or heart, liver, or kidney failure
Chicken Pox vs. Measles
The symptoms of chicken pox are a rash that initially shows up on the chest, face, and back, however, spreads to the rest of the body.
Fever, headache, tiredness or fatigue, or decrease in appetite are other symptoms.
While the symptoms of measles are a rash that shows up at your hairline or forehead and then spread downward to other parts of the body.
Fever, hacking cough, runny nose, sore throat, red, inflamed eyes or conjunctivitis, or Koplik’s spots are symptoms of measles.
Koplik’s spots are small red spots with blue-white centers found inside your mouth and cheeks.
While both these diseases cause a telltale rash to develop, the appearance of rash differs between the two viruses.
This can be a simple way to distinguish between the two diseases.
Moreover, the chicken pox rash starts with raised red bumps or papules, and they turn into itchy fluid-filled blisters or vesicles.
These will eventually rupture and leak before scabbing over.
However, measles rash appears as flat, red spots, though raised bumps may sometime also be present.
If bumps appear, they do not have fluid in them.
Furthermore, the spots of the measles rash may begin to run together as it spreads.
Who is at the Risk?
Exposure to the virus through previous active infection or vaccination reduces the risk.
Immunity from the virus can also pass on from a mother to her newborn and immunity lasts about three months from birth.
Moreover, if you have not been exposed can contract the virus.
Risk increases under any of the following conditions:
You have recent contact with an infected person, are under 12 years of age, and are an adult living with children.
Furthermore, you are spending time in a school or childcare facility and your immune system is compromised due to illness or medications.
Diagnosing Chicken Pox
It is important that you should always call your doctor or seek medical advice any time you develop an unexplained rash.
This is especially the case if it comes along with cold symptoms or fever.
One of the several viruses or infections can also be affecting you.
Tell your doctor right away if you are pregnant or have recent exposure to chickenpox.
Your doctor will be able to diagnose chickenpox depending on the physical exam of blisters on you or your child’s body.
Or, lab tests can also help to confirm the cause of the blisters.
It is important to call your doctor right away if the rash spreads to your eyes, is red, tender, and snd warm, which is a sign of secondary bacterial infections.
The rash that comes along with dizziness or shortness of breath is also among those concerns.
However, when complications occur, they often affect infants, older adults, people with a weak immune system, and pregnant women.
Additionally, these groups can also contract VZV pneumonia or bacterial infections of the skin, joints, or bones.
It is important to note that if you have exposure to this infection during pregnancy, you may bear children with birth defects.
These include poor growth, small head size, eye problems, and intellectual disabilities.
If your doctor diagnoses you with chicken pox, your doctor will advise you to manage your symptoms while they wait for the virus to pass through the system.
As parents, your doctor will tell you to keep your children out of school and daycare to prevent the spread of the virus.
Infected adults will also need to stay home.
Your doctor may prescribe antihistamine medications or topical ointments.
Or you can also purchase these over-the-counter medications to help relieve itching.
You can, however, also soothe itching by:
- taking lukewarm baths
- applying unscented lotion
- wearing lightweight, soft clothing
Moreover, your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs if you experience complications from the virus or are at a risk for adverse effects.
You are at a higher risk if you are young, older adult, or if you have any underlying medical issue.
Such antiviral drugs do not cure chickenpox, however, they can make the symptoms less severe by slowing down viral activity.
This will allow the immune system of your body to heal faster.
The body can resolve most cases of chickenpox on its own and you can return to normal activities within one to two weeks of diagnosis.
Once chickenpox heals, you can become immune to the virus.
it will not reactivate because VZV often stays dormant in the body if you are healthy. However, in rare cases, it may re-emerge to cause another episode of chickenpox.
Moreover, it is more common for shingles, a separate disorder that also triggers VZV, to occur later during adulthood.
If your immune system is temporarily weak, VZV may reactivate in the form of shingles.
This often occurs due to advanced age or having a debilitating illness.
The chickenpox vaccine can help prevent chickenpox in 98% of the people who receive the two recommended diseases.
Your child should get the shot when they are between 12 and 15 months of age and can get a booster between 4 and 6 years of age.
Older children and adults who do not receive a vaccination or get exposure may receive catch-up doses of the vaccine.
As chickenpox tends to be more severe in older adults, people who do not receive vaccination may opt to get the shots later.
People unable to receive the vaccine can also try to avoid the virus by limiting contact with infected people.
However, this can be difficult. Chickenpox can not be identified as blisters until it already has spread to others for days.
Chickenpox is a contagious illness that occurs due to the varicella-zoster virus that causes a highly itchy rash. Most people get it in childhood, while if you get it in adults, you may be at a risk of more serious symptoms and complications.
Since 1995, most people in the U.S. have received a vaccine for chickenpox, and there are two types of chickenpox vaccines that are administered twice in your childhood. These can help prevent about 90% of the infections in the U.S. Some infections may still occur among unvaccinated or immunocompromised people.