Chickenpox is one of the most common infections in children. It is a viral disease that comes with very itchy red rashes spread all over the body. Children who are infected with chickenpox don’t have much of a hard time coping with the disease compared to adults who are at risk of complications including bacterial pneumonia. Chickenpox in children also heals easily while with adults, the disease leaves unsightly marks unless treated by a dermatologist.
It’s common knowledge that almost all the people who have had chickenpox develop a permanent immunity against it. This means that once you have this disease, you won’t have it again in the future. But what some people do not know is that the virus remains dormant inside the body. Later in life, it is possible for the virus to reactivate and cause shingles. Another major concern when it comes to this infection is for pregnant women. If you’re pregnant and you acquire this disease, it can cause birth defects on the unborn child.
A virus called herpes zoster, also known as the varicella zoster virus, is the direct cause of chickenpox. It can be spread through sneezing and coughing as well as with contact with items like bed linens and clothing used by an infected person.
Symptoms can be detected 7 to 21 days after you have been exposed to the virus. It is most contagious one day before the rash appears on the skin and seven days after. It is also contagious throughout the duration of chickenpox until the rashes are completely dried and healed.
Red itchy bumps will primarily appear on the torso, neck, face and limbs of the infected person. These rashes can last from 7 to 10 days. They will transform from small and red pimple-like bumps to blisters filled with fluid. These drain and scab over eventually. Rashes may also appear on the scalp, around the eyes, in the mouth, and on the genitals.
Since chickenpox is extremely contagious, it is a must to have a person quarantined at home until the skin rashes and blisters are dried and healed. The chickenpox itself doesn’t always require treatment but you would want to apply treatment for the symptoms.
The commonly prescribed drug for chickenpox is Zovirax (acyclovir), which is effective in shortening the duration of the symptoms.
However, there is much controversy on the time for using this drug. Some doctors prescribe this drug only for children with chickenpox infections that have effects on the brain or lungs. Those with severe infections are sometimes not advised to use this.
Apart from this, the doctor may also advise the use of over-the-counter drugs like antihistamines for relief for pain, itchiness, and swelling. If there is any secondary bacterial skin infection that arises, antibiotics may be prescribed.
There are also a dozen of home remedies that can relieve chickenpox symptoms. For children, it would help to trim the fingernails and cover the hands with mittens to prevent scratching that can lead to infection and scarring. Applying oatmeal or baking soda to the bath water can also ease the itchiness. It’s also important to keep the rashes clean through daily washing. Applying lotion after a bath also alleviates the itchiness.