Chicken pox is a common disease among children and adults. The virus causing chicken pox is called Varicella-Zoster. Generally, the disease can be characterized by red blisters and itchiness all over the body. Chicken pox normally affects children at a young age but if you are not affected by it in your childhood then you might get affected by it now. A person suffering from chicken pox more than once is a very rare scenario. Besides, the number of chicken pox cases has also declined after the introduction of the vaccine during the 1990s. Even though the chicken pox symptoms are only a few but it is considered as a contagious disease.
It is often said and considered that the chicken pox virus lays inactive in a human body one it affects it. The virus becomes active again when the immune system is weak and causes shingles. It is another disease which is triggered by the Varicella Zoster virus lying inactive in your body. When you are cured of chicken pox, remember the virus is still present in your body which can eventually attack you again in time.
Chicken Pox Symptoms
The most common symptoms of chicken pox are itchy blisters and rashes. Generally, the symptoms start showing up within 10 to 20 days of getting infected. The infectious virus, Varicella-Zoster lasts for 7 to 10 days before becoming inactive. Apart from this, there are few other symptoms as well which include,
- You will experience a general illness or malaise
- Fever is another symptom which is common for adults rather than for children
- Muscle aches are one of the most common chicken pox symptoms.
- Loss of appetite
- Rashes all across your body
- Once the fluid flows out of the blisters, spots develop in those areas
- Drying out of blisters and forming a crust
In some of the cases of chicken pox, people may also experience a few other symptoms too. On experiencing such symptoms you must consult a doctor.
- The skin around the blister becomes red and painful
- You might experience difficulty while breathing
- There is a chance of getting affected by cold or flu
- You can experience lesions in the eyes, throat, anus, vagina and mucous membrane of the urethra
Chicken Pox Causes
The basic reason for getting affected by chicken pox is a virus called Varicella Zoster. This virus spreads when you come in to direct contact with the rashes or the fluid of the blisters. Besides, you can also get affected by this when an individual suffering from chicken pox sneezes or coughs as you inhale the air droplets. VZV or Varicella Zoster Virus is highly contagious and the chicken pox symptoms in babies are same as of adults. You can come in contact with the virus through the saliva of an affected person. The virus is contagious till the time the blisters convert into crusts.
How does Chicken Pox Spread?
As it is a highly contagious virus, it can spread very easily. Moreover, the chicken pox symptoms in adults and babies are the same. If a baby is affected by it, you can also get affected by it when you come in contact with the rashes. The virus particles can be found in high quantity around the affected person. Even if you breathe the air consisting of the virus particles you can get affected by it. The contagiousness of the virus is at its peak from the time of rashes appearing on the body till the time the blisters convert into crusts.
The VZV can spread through the following:
- Coming in contact with the rashes
- The saliva of the affected person
- Coming in contact with the blister fluid
The skin becomes super-itchy and develops red rashes. It is generally a mild disease but in some cases it also becomes severe. In such a situation the rashes can spread in your eyes, ear, nose, mouth and the genitals too. These are the only possible ways through which chicken pox causes in an individual.
Risk Factors of Chicken Pox
The risk factors of getting infected by the VZV are higher if you haven’t been affected by it or if you haven’t taken the vaccine for VZV. It is very important to get vaccinated so that you don’t infect yourself by coming in contact with an infected individual. If you wish to know what are symptoms then you can go through the chicken pox photos available over the internet.
Those people who have already taken the vaccine for chicken pox, they are immune to it. Although there is a chance of getting affected by the virus even after taking the vaccine you will experience mild effects of it. This is mainly caused due to weak immune system. Besides, if you have already suffered from chicken pox then there are little chances of getting infected again.
Who is at Risk?
The risk factors vary for different age groups. Besides, there are different chicken pox stages which determine how severe the condition is.
- A newborn baby or infant whose mother wasn’t vaccinated has a higher risk of getting infected
- Teenagers and adults who never suffered from chicken pox and are not vaccinated as well
- A pregnant woman who was never infected by the virus
- A person who recently came in contact with a VZV affected person
- Children below the age of 12 have higher risks
- People who have a weak immune system or currently suffering from any other disease
- People who spent most of their time in child care facilities
- Individuals who smoke a lot
- A person who is into steroids for any reason
- Individuals suffering from HIV AIDS or are under the chemotherapy procedure
Complications related to Chicken Pox
If you think that chicken pox has zero complications then you are wrong. There are little complications related to chicken pox when it comes to children. On the contrary, for adults, there are multiple complications. People suffering from HIV, cancer and other severe diseases have a higher risk of developing chicken pox due to poor immunity power. Talking about complications, one big thing to be considered over here is that the VZV stays in the nerve cells even after chicken pox is cured. As a result, there lies a huge chance of reactivation of the virus. This, in turn, may lead to a couple of other diseases as well as severe health deterioration.
- Reye’s syndrome
- Bacterial infection of bones, bloodstream, joints, soft tissues and skin
- Toxic Shock syndrome
- In some cases, it may also result in death
Chicken Pox Treatment
Treating chicken pox can be in two different ways. You can take the chicken pox vaccine to safeguard yourself from the VZV or else you can treat yourself once the chicken pox symptoms start showing up. Fortunately, there are a couple of home remedies to cure or treat chicken pox.
1. Use Tylenol or Acetaminophen for Pain Relieve
This is a great option to get relief from the pain of chicken pox. Tylenol is helpful for children as well as adults when it comes to dealing with pain caused by chicken pox. Besides, Tylenol has healing components which can help you get relief from the painful sores developed inside your mouth. This is a safe medicine for children of any age as well as pregnant women.
2. Restrict the Use of Anti-Inflammatory Painkillers
It is recommended to avoid anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen. Besides, aspirins are a big no for children below the age of 16 years. Reye’s syndrome is a serious health condition which can be triggered due to anti-inflammatory painkillers.
3. Don’t Scratch the Blisters and Rashes
When the rashes develop further into blisters, it will become itchy as well. For a person suffering from chicken pox, scratching the rashes is very much fascinating. Moreover, you will feel a bit relieved but that is what you need to avoid. Scratching the rashes might develop lifelong scars on your body which you don’t want. On the contrary, there are a few way outs which can help you get relief.
- Tap and pat the itchy areas with a wet cloth
- Take an oatmeal bath
- Wear loose clothes
- Use calamine lotion to dab on the itchy spots
- To ease the chicken pox symptoms, use an antihistamine such as Benadryl
- Try and avoid sweat and heat so that it doesn’t itch much
Chicken Pox Symptoms and Pregnancy
Women who haven’t been treated with chicken pox vaccine give birth to babies with abnormalities and low birth weight. Besides, if a pregnant woman is infected by the VZV during her pregnancy period, there is a higher risk of giving birth to a physically or mentally abnormal child. Generally, if the mother is infected by the virus during the last semester, the baby can get affected by it. Doctors recommend pregnant women to take the chicken pox vaccine if they are not immune to it. Apart from this, if a pregnant woman is affected by the virus, she must follow the chicken pox diet to avoid any consequences.
Chicken Pox Symptoms and Shingles
One thing which is unavoidable in terms of chicken pox is the lying inactive of Varicella-Zoster Virus in your nerve cells. There are innumerable cases in the US where years after the patient was cured of chicken pox, he or she starts developing symptoms of shingles. This is the result of the virus lying inactive in the nerve cells of the patient. This, in turn, results in shingles which is a cluster of blisters appearing in different parts of your body.
Usually, shingles affect older people more than compared to young adults. Besides, people with a weaker immune system have greater chances to get affected by shingles. Even though the blisters may disappear after a certain time, but the pain lasts longer than expected. This condition is also known as postherpetic neuralgia.
Chicken Pox Prevention
The only way to prevent chicken pox from affecting your body is through vaccination. It is highly recommended to vaccinate your child as well as yourself if you haven’t yet with the chicken pox vaccine. When and only you detect chicken pox symptoms it is necessary to consult a doctor and follow the instructions. Moreover, it has been proved that vaccination doesn’t provide 100% protection. As a result, even after vaccination, you might get affected by the virus but you don’t have to worry as the effect will be mild on your body as you are vaccinated already. This has been proved and stated by the CDCP or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The vaccine for chicken pox is called Varivax which is widely available in the US. Besides, it is mandatory to inject children with the vaccine after a certain period of birth. Apart from this, it is recommended for:
1. Young children
In the US, children are recommended to take 2 doses of the vaccine. The first dose is prescribed between 12 to 15 months of age. On the other hand, the second dose is prescribed between 4 to 6 years of age. This is a mandatory vaccine which is now included in the routine vaccination schedule of the children.
2. Unvaccinated children
For children who weren’t vaccinated at the recommended age, it is necessary to inject the vaccine between 7 years to 12 years of age. Here also they need to inject two doses of the vaccine at an interval of 3 months. Apart from this, if your child has crossed the age of 13 then he or she must get the same 2 doses at an interval of 1 month.
3. Unvaccinated adults
Adults who weren’t vaccinated during their childhood with the Varivax vaccine must get the vaccination done. Also, they not have been infected by the chicken pox virus till now. This, in turn, doesn’t mean that they will never get affected by it in their lifetime. As a part of safety measure, even adults should take 2 doses of the vaccine at an interval of 4 weeks to 6 weeks maximum.
It is better to take the necessary precautions rather than suffering from consequences. If you haven’t taken the vaccine yet, now is the time.