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Even though it is quite common and has a cure, chickenpox is a highly contagious infection. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The telltale signs of chickenpox are red itchy blisters that appear all over the body. Throughout the infection, the blisters start popping and leaking. Hence, it is advisable to maintain sufficient distance from people with chickenpox.

Chickenpox in babies is most common. However, chickenpox in adults is possible too. It is said to be a mild infection. But, in severe cases, the blisters can spread to the mouth, nose, eyes and genitals. Let us understand chickenpox causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention in detail. We’ll begin by understanding the symptoms of chickenpox. 

Chickenpox

Chickenpox

Image Source: Verywell Health

Symptoms of Chickenpox

The most common symptom of chickenpox is a red, itchy rash. The symptoms appear within 10 to 21 days after you have contracted the virus. There are other symptoms such as -

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling irritable.

There are three stages in which the infection progresses:

1. Stage One:

You develop the rashes. They might also be bumps that might appear pink or red. These are called ‘papules’. They appear all over your body.

2. Stage Two:

The second phase is when over the next few days the papules will turn into fluid-filled small blisters. These are called the ‘vesicles’ and can last for about a day before they start popping and leaking.

3. Final Stage:

In the third and final phase, the open wounds will crust over and turn into scabs. Until all the spots crust, you can spread this virus to other people. Moreover, it may also happen that new papules might keep coming, which means that you may have bumps, blisters and scabs all at the same time. It takes 7 to 14 days for the scabs to disappear completely.

The following table gives a detailed overview of the symptoms of chickenpox in babies and adults.

Chickenpox in Adults

Symptoms of Chickenpox in Adults

If you are an adult who has acquired chickenpox for the first time, the symptoms for the same are as follows:

  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat

Further, you may experience a rash that becomes a tell-tale symptom of chickenpox. People who have received chickenpox vaccine before can still experience mild symptoms. Doctors refer to this as the ‘breakthrough chickenpox’.

Chickenpox in Babies

Symptoms of Chickenpox in Babies

A few signs of chickenpox in babies are as follows:

  • Loss of appetite, which includes a change in breastfeeding habits.
  • Change in sleeping habits as the baby experiences itching or pain.
  • Excessive crying or lack of responses towards efforts to soothe the pain.
  • Fever, which starts before the rash.
  • Increase in sleepiness

Babies with chickenpox may not develop fever due to a less developed immune system, and hence their body does not respond to infections by raising its temperature.

Cause & Transmission of Chickenpox

As mentioned above, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes chickenpox infection. The common way of transmission is when one comes in contact with the infected person. If you have contracted the virus, it is contagious to those around you until 1 or 2 days before the blisters appear.

Until all the blisters are crusted, the virus is contagious. It can spread through -

  • Saliva
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Any kind of contact with fluid from blisters

Any person who has not been exposed to the virus and/or isn't vaccinated for the same before can contract it.

Diagnosis of Chickenpox

If you find rashes on your body accompanied with cold and fever, out of the blue, then you should immediately consult a doctor. A physical examination of the rashes and blisters will help the doctor determine whether you have contracted the virus. For further confirmation, the doctor might also prescribe some blood tests or a test of lesion samples.

Treatment of Chickenpox

In terms of healthy children or adults, chickenpox needs no treatment. However, the doctor will guide you to do the following:

  • Prescribe an antihistamine to help relieve some of the itchings
  • The disease is allowed to run its course based on the phases
  • Avoid scratching the itch as that might leave marks on your skin and can also lead to other skin infections
  • At home, wear loose, cotton clothes that can help your skin to breathe
  • You can also take lukewarm baths and apply unscented lotion. A calamine lotion works fine too.
  • You can also take an oatmeal bath and dap your skin dry
  • Avoid rubbing the skin at all times
  • Make sure you don’t sweat a lot. Choose a place to stay that is cool and away from the heat.

Once you have contracted the virus and have healed from it, you also become immune to the virus.

Prevention of Chickenpox

Here’s how chickenpox can be prevented:

1. Vaccination:

Getting the chickenpox vaccine is one of the safest ways to prevent the infection. The vaccine provides optimum protection from the virus if taken in the recommended doses. Moreover, it lessens the severity of the infection significantly. However, pregnant women, people with weak immunity due to HIV or cancer, and people who are allergic to gelatin to neomycin should avoid taking the vaccine.

2. Maintain Distance from the Infected Person:

If you know someone who has contracted the virus, it is best to stay away from the person to avoid any transmission. Avoid touching or wearing clothes of the infected person without washing them clean first. If your child has contracted the virus, keep him out of the school for a few days.

Conclusion

The treatment for chickenpox can be easily done through the doctor’s guidance. It is always recommended to get yourself, and your children vaccinated. However, if you contract the virus, contact your insurance advisor to check if this condition is included in your health insurance cover. If yes, you can get yourself treated without any financial stress.

It is highly important to contain the spread of the virus by quarantining yourself or your child. Maintain good hygiene, do not scratch the itch and let the virus run its course. You will be healed in a few days after the initial symptoms.

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