Chicken Pox – Symptoms, Causes, Stages, and Treatment
by MedPlus Team, January 21, 2020
Chicken Pox, also referred to as Varicella, is a highly contagious and infectious disease caused by the Varicella Zoster virus. When an individual is attacked by this virus, he/she develops skin rashes, fever, itchy blisters spread evenly on the skin, all over the body. This disease can attack any age group but most often occurs in children and then followed by adults.
After the rashes begin, there will be 3 stages:
1.Papules (raised pink bumps) which break after some days.
2. Small-sized, fluid-filled blisters begin; tend to break suddenly resulting in fluid leakage.
3. Crusts and scabs that cover the broken blisters may take several days to heal. Also, new bumps can continue to appear in the next few days.
Symptoms of Chicken Pox
a) Feeling unwell overall
b) Fever (more in adults than in children)
c) Muscle aches
d) Loss of hunger
e) Nausea (at times)
Rash: rashes across the entire body.
Spots: spots start developing upon the face, limbs, chest, and stomach. These are small-sized, red-colored, and itchy.
Blisters: on top of these spots, blisters begin to appear; which eventually cause itching.
Clouding: in around 2-3 days, the blisters start drying out and lastly, the crust begins to develop (hardened layer).
Note – Few individuals can experience an extreme symptom such as difficulty in breathing.
Who Acquires the Disease Most?
1.Children below 2 years of age
2.Those who are not attacked by the Varicella Virus before
3.Those who have not been vaccinated
4.Those who are closely associated with people infected with chickenpox
How Does Chicken Pox Spread?
Chicken Pox spreads very easily – by breathing-in particles released from Chicken Pox blisters; by direct handling of the products or things which are infected with the Varicella Virus.
Treatment of Chicken Pox:
1. There is no cure for Chicken Pox. However, the disease gets resolved within 1 or 2 weeks without treatment.
2. But there is a vaccine that helps in the prevention of chickenpox.
3. Treatment helps to reduce symptoms of itchiness, rash, and discomfort; & to reduce the spread of infection to others.
4. Your skin can get really itchy but avoid scratching since scratching can lead to a secondary infection.
5. Instead, apply calamine lotion which helps in reducing itching or alternatively, take an oatmeal bath.
6. Paracetamol is recommended to reduce fever and pain. Make sure you take any tablet only on a doctor’s prescription and follow the dosage recommendation.
7. For mouth soreness, your doctor may recommend sugar-free popsicles that help to ease symptoms of soreness (if spots in the mouth). Do not eat any salty or spicy foods. If unable to chew food due to sores in the mouth, soup is the better option (drink warm liquids, not too hot)
8. It is necessary to be hydrated with plenty of fluids and liquids (preferably water to prevent dehydration). Alternatively, you can also consume Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) powder.
Some More Tips to Prevent Secondary Infection:
a) Wear loose clothes.
b) Wear socks to avoid subconscious itching/friction between feet during sleep.
c) Always keep your fingernails cut short and clean. This will prevent you from the risk of pimple breakage while uncontrollable scratching.
How to Prevent Chicken Pox:
For children – 2 doses of Varicella Vaccine; 1 at 12- 15months and 1 at the age of 4-6 years. This is proven to be a very effective vaccine for prevention.
Chicken Pox and Small Pox:
People often get confused between Chicken Pox and Smallpox. Both of them are caused by different viruses. However, In smallpox, fever persists for 2-4 days before the rash. while in chicken Pox, fever and rash develop simultaneously.
Chicken Pox is a very common illness in childhood. Get vaccinated as a precaution, no need to avoid any foods, do not spread the disease, isolate yourself if infected and drink plenty of water.