Chickenpox – Causes, Transmission, Signs & Treatment
by MedPlus Team, May 28, 2020
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus, which is also known as VZV, and often affects children. While children are more prone to being affected with it, chickenpox in adults is more severe and harmful. One of the most distinguishable early symptoms of chickenpox is the chickenpox rash. The rashes eventually convert into small but very itchy blisters. They are also often painful and take quite a while before they go away. These are primarily accumulated on the back, chest, and face but are however found all over the body. Though a less fatal virus borne disease, there are cases where the infected people succumb to the chickenpox. However, the good news is that the probability is approx 1 death per 60,000 cases.
Chickenpox Signs and Symptoms
Chicken Pox symptoms usually begin to show after 10-21 days of exposure to the virus and last for a minimum of 5-7 days. If infected, people start to show chickenpox signs & symptoms such as headache, mild fever, body aches, etc; followed by chickenpox rash which eventually turns to blisters. The key distinguishable point here is the red spots on the body with heavy itching.
Some other symptoms include headache, nasal discharge, tiredness, loss of appetite, pain in various muscles of the body, sores, etc. However, complications can include pneumonia, brain inflammation, severe skin infections (often bacterial), and more.
Chickenpox is transmissible through the air and easily spreads through coming in contact with an infected person’s sneezes, coughs, touch, etc. It is noted that a person gets infected with chickenpox only once a lifetime. In rare cases where the virus attacks again, no new symptoms are noted.
Lifetime immunizations are available and highly recommended during early childhood. In regions with a high risk of catching the infection, children are recommended to take multiple/regular doses of immunizations.
While there is no chickenpox cure yet, treatments can definitely be treated:
a. Treatment usually consists of easing of symptoms. Paracetamol can be taken to reduce fever but not Aspirin. The use of Aspirin by someone infected with chickenpox may lead to severe, sometimes fatal diseases of liver and brain, mainly the Reye Syndrome.
b. Treatment with antiviral drugs is generally recommended in adults. Children below 12 years of age are advised not to go for antiviral drugs, mainly due to the risk of developing complications. Antiviral drugs do not kill the virus but stop it from multiplying.
a. Hygiene Measures:
Just like our very popular Coronavirus, the spreading of VZV can also be prevented by isolating the affected individuals. Like all the other viruses, VZV is sensitive to drying, heat, and detergents. Hence, proper hygiene is the best bet to avoid getting infected.
The chickenpox vaccine is available almost worldwide. One dose of the vaccine has 95% probability of the individual to be immune to the virus. Two doses of the vaccine are more effective than one. World Health Organization (WHO) recommends routine vaccination to avoid contraction of Chickenpox.
The diagnosis of VZV is primarily based on symptoms as early as the first rashes. Confirmation is achieved by examination of the fluid within the vesicles of the rash or by a usual blood sample examination.
Takeaways for You:
a. Avoid contact with infected individuals.
b. Maintain decent hygiene standards to reduce the risk of contraction of whether VZV or Covid-19.
c. Spread the word – Let your friends and families know; share this article with them.