Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It commonly occurs in children; however, it can also occur in adults. In adults, the symptoms are usually more severe than in children. This virus remains in a person’s body lifelong but does not produce symptoms once dormant.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of Chickenpox typically appear within 10 to 21 days after you’ve been exposed to the virus and frequently last for 5-10 days. u
- Loss of appetite
- Tiredness and a general feeling of being unwell (malaise)
- Skin rashes with itching and blisters
The rashes that develop during the infection are characteristic. The first rashes typically start appearing on the chest, body and scalp region. It later spreads to the face and limbs. The rash then starts to form a fluid-filled blister, and finally, the blisters start to leak a clear fluid. These lesions start to crust and form a scab before healing.
This virus spreads from person to person through direct contact with infectious fluid from the blisters, nasal secretions and saliva. The person infected is the most contagious even before the blisters appear and can spread the infection until after the lesions completely crust.
The diagnosis of Chickenpox is made by examination of the rashes by a doctor. RT PCR test for Varicella zoster virus can be done to confirm the disease.
Isolating affected individuals within a period lasting from 3 days before the onset of the rash to 4 days after the onset of the rash. Maintaining hygiene, wearing masks, and washing hands can also limit the spread of infection.
Children can be vaccinated with the Varicella vaccine, and is often 85% effective.
- Chickenpox infection, especially in children, is self-limiting.
- Children can be managed in isolation at home with supportive medication and adequate hydration.
- Most adults are also required only to be isolated and managed with supportive care as well.
- Treatment with antiviral drugs can be used in adults or in case the infection is severe.
- Antibiotics are not indicated unless there is an added bacterial infection along with the viral infection.
- Antihistamines can be taken to prevent itching and irritation.
- Only Paracetamol can be given in case of fever supportive care.
- Topical application of soothing lotions, if recommended by a doctor.
- Avoid spicy and oily food.
- Maintain adequate hydration.
- Vitamins can be taken to help boost immunity.
- Bacterial infection of the skin
- Pneumonia (lung infection)
- Brain infection or inflammation (Encephalitis)
- Liver inflammation
- Bleeding problems
- Sepsis (blood infection)
- Reye syndrome, in people who take aspirin (a potentially dangerous drug for Chickenpox)
Chickenpox is a common viral disease that can be managed at-home care and in isolation. However, in adults, it can lead to a complication at times. Keeping a watch for worsening symptoms and consulting a doctor at the earliest can help prevent the complications of this disease. Vaccination also plays an important role in preventing the disease.