What is chickenpox? Symptoms and treatment

What is chickenpox? Symptoms and treatments

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It usually affects children, but can also be contracted by adults. The virus causes a blister-like rash and a fever. Symptoms include fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, and irritability.

 Chickenpox is a viral infection that spreads upon contact with the varicella-zoster virus. This is a highly contagious infection and often leads to severe discomfort in its patients. 

Most of the common problems faced by people include skin rashes and fluid-filled blisters of variable sizes. The initial cases of chickenpox date back to the 17th century. But it was only until the 2013 chickenpox outbreak worldwide that the disease and the term gained global recognition. Health experts, in 1985, successfully reported the presence of the varicella vaccine to relieve the disease. It was only after the introduction of this vaccine that the number of deaths taking place worldwide due to chickenpox started coming down. With this vaccine not only the problem of chickenpox viral was prevented but it also helped in immunizing people of various other deadly diseases.

Often it is said that people get chickenpox only once in their lifetime, but the chances of reinfection still exist. Usually, the development of chickenpox is found in newborns during their first year of growth. But if it doesn’t develop during this period then with routine immunization in children the threat of catching the virus decreases.

As per CDC, chickenpox spreads from one person to another very easily. The spreading may occur due to the coughing and sneezing of the infected person and also due to coming in contact with the blisters of the patients. Apart from this, once you get infected, the virus takes 10-25 days of incubation period before it shows up symptoms. So, even if you get infected you won’t know until rashes appear on your body. According to NCBI, if immunization is done within 3 days of exposure to the virus, then the chances of the severity of the disease in children can be reduced. Hence, routine check-ups and immunization of children around the globe are recommended by the British Medical Bulletin.

Symptoms

Having known so much about the disease and its past, now let us know the various signs and symptoms that appear upon catching the infection. Some of the common symptoms include:

●       Fever

●       Fatigue

●       Lack of appetite

●       Headaches

●       Skin rashes and

●       Fluid-filled, itchy blisters

According to Healthline, the most common of all symptoms of chickenpox are fluid-filled, itchy blisters and skin rashes. These rashes and blisters start to develop only after 21 or more days of you catching the virus. These first appear on the chest, back, and neck and then eventually spread to the mouth and genital areas. These are very discomforting and usually, last from 4 to 7 days and then turn into scabs. 

But about 48 hours before their appearance, fever, headache, and tiredness starts showing up. Only after this, you can see rashes developing over your body. Then by the 14th day usually the scabs fall off entirely and then a chickenpox-free life can be led. These are these scabs after the blisters dry up that spreads the virus through contact with other people. So, during this time you should be careful of taking care, as it can lead to the transmission of infection to someone else in the family. Due to this chickenpox, children usually have to take school off for a minimum of 7 days.

Can vaccinated people also get infected with chickenpox?

Although vaccination with the Varicella vaccine is found to be very effective in controlling viral infection, still there are chances of infection. Even vaccinated people can get infected with chickenpox. The difference remains in the severity of the symptoms.

Those who are already immunized tend to get milder symptoms ranging from mild rashes to absolutely no fever. But this is not the same for all. According to CDC, even some vaccinated individuals can also get symptoms and discomfort similar to an unvaccinated individual. This happens due to the lack of development of immunity in those vaccinated people. But these cases are very rare. Vaccination immunizes the person such that it is rare to catch the virus and develop severe symptoms. Hence, better to get vaccinated timely and save yourself and your surrounding from the irritating disease.

Potential victims of chickenpox

Chickenpox is actually is children’s disease. It occurs and most easily spreads among children below the age of 14 years. But this doesn’t make adults immune to the disease.

 Any adult who is spending time with children, like in schools, healthcare centers, or even at home, has the chance of contracting the infection. Apart from the spread of the virus via children, the infection can also transmit to one’s body by contacting any infected individual.

 The chances of transmission of the varicella virus increase more if you are not vaccinated or have a lack of immunity. This may be due to a recent illness or any disease you suffer from. 

Prevention

The best way to prevention of chickenpox infection is by vaccination. Vaccination is 90% effective in preventing chickenpox. Usually, vaccination for the infection is done within the age of 13 years via two doses.

When a child is between 12 to 13 months old, the first dose of varicella vaccine is given to him. Then the second dose is given when the child turns 6 years old. This pattern in vaccinating a kid is found to be very effective against the virus. But in case the child is over 13 years of age and still has not taken the vaccine then he should be given the vaccine with proper health expert’s guidance. Along with children above the age of 13 years, even if adults have never got vaccinated with the chickenpox vaccine, then they should also get vaccinated. His vaccine doses should be given 28 days apart. But before getting vaccinated you must take care of certain conditions because according to the Clevelandclinic everyone is not eligible to take the vaccine. Some of the conditions included are listed below.

●       Are you a patient with tuberculosis

●       Are pregnant or are expected to be

●       Are allergic to vaccines

●       Are recently been vaccinated with some live vaccine

●       Are not well due to some illness

Treatment

Usually, chickenpox is allowed to run its course without any such medicines. The healthy children are also not given any kind of medicine to tackle the infection. Usually, with proper home care and less itching, the infection can be got over. But in cases of more than mild itching, the patient is provided with antihistamines. These help to relieve the itchiness and provide little comfort in the journey. But in cases where the complications are too much, doctors provide certain medications to bring down the length of the infection and also reduce the complications. According to Mayoclinic some of the effective medicines during these times, that are usually prescribed by doctors include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir. These drugs will help in reducing the severity of the symptoms and provide relief.

Besides these, some of the common, simple and effective advice that can work wonders for you to treat the condition are also mentioned below. Let us have a look at them.

●       Avoid scratching either for self-control or for help, wear gloves and trim your nails. As scratching may lead to increased healing time and more complications.

●       Dab calamine lotion on the blister spots to get relief from stinging.

●       Eat non-spicy and light meals if you have blisters in your mouth.

●       To get some comfort from the itchiness you can also try to take cold baths in colloidal of soaked oatmeal. This will help you a lot in reducing your discomfort.

All these methods of relaxation are usually advised by health care professionals or are given as home remedies by our mothers and grandmothers. So, try to follow them if possible to get maximum support and relief during these times.

Conclusion

Chickenpox is an airborne disease, which is highly contagious and spreads very easily via contact. Once you get into contact with some infected person with chickenpox, the chances of you developing the symptoms increase. After an incubation period of a minimum of 10 days, symptoms may start showing up. The best way to get relief from the infection includes vaccination with the varicella vaccine. Children should be given this vaccine within the age of 13 years. But an unvaccinated adult can also take the vaccine doses 28 days apart. So, make sure to take your vaccine once you know about it and also if you recently get into contact with an infected person, make sure to get vaccinated within 3 days.

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