Chickenpox is a troublesome disease. It usually affects children, but adults can also get it. While chickenpox is not usually a serious illness, it can cause discomfort and sometimes complications. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about chickenpox, including its symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention.
Chickenpox also known as varicella is a common infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. “Chickenpox is usually acquired through inhalation of airborne respiratory droplets from an infected host. High viral concentration is found in the characteristic vesicles of chickenpox,” says Dr Jeevan Aggarwal, Associate Director – Internal Medicine, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.
The symptoms of chickenpox typically appear 10-21 days (incubation period) after exposure to the virus. Dr Aggarwal explains that a few days later, the characteristic rash appears. The rash typically starts on the face and trunk and spreads to the arms and legs. The rash appears as small, red, itchy bumps that quickly turn into fluid-filled blisters. After a few days, the blisters scab over and eventually fall off.
This process happens in three stages. First the rash appears on the body and it usually starts on the chest, back, and face, it then spreads to the rest of the body. At the second stage they turn into blisters and the third stage involves blisters drying out and falling off.
The recovery time for chickenpox is around a week or a little more. The rash and other symptoms such as fever, tiredness and headaches usually last five to seven days.
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According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, chickenpox is a highly contagious disease as the virus spreads easily from people with chickenpox to others who have never had the disease or never been vaccinated. If one person has it, up to 90 percent of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected. Dr Aggarwal explains that viral transmission may also occur through direct contact with the chickenpox vesicles, though the risk of transmission is lower.
The doctor says chickenpox complications may occasionally include pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, and bacterial skin infections. The disease is usually more severe in adults than in children.
There is no specific treatment for chickenpox, but there are several things you can do to alleviate the symptoms. You can take over-the-counter pain relievers. You can also use calamine lotion or oatmeal baths to soothe the itching.
Vaccination is the only way to prevent chickenpox. The chickenpox vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect against the virus. The vaccine is recommended for children between the ages of 12 months and 12 years who have not had chickenpox. Adults who have not had chickenpox should also consider getting vaccinated. If you have been exposed to someone with chickenpox, you may be able to prevent the disease by getting a vaccine or by receiving immunoglobulin within 72 hours of exposure.
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Chickenpox is a common viral illness that is usually not serious. Vaccination is the best way to prevent chickenpox. If you or someone you know has chickenpox, the symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter medications and home remedies. If you experience any complications, seek medical attention right away.
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