Whether you’re itching for knowledge or just itching in general, learning about chickenpox can allow you to take control if the virus comes around. Find out everything you need to know about this blistering subject.
What Is Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a form of the Varicella Zoster virus that is most commonly found among children under the age of 12, but it can affect anyone. While uncomfortable and annoying, chickenpox is typically harmless. The chickenpox vaccine is extremely effective at preventing the virus and is given to children once when they are 12-15 months old and once as a booster when they are 4-6 years old. Booster vaccines rebuild immunity levels after the effects of the previous vaccine have worn off over time.
How Is It Spread?
Chickenpox is highly contagious, so those who have it should stay home from school or work. The virus is spread through contact with fluid from the sores, inhaling particles from the sores in the atmosphere, and breathing in infected liquids that have entered the air through coughing or sneezing. Chickenpox takes anywhere from seven to 21 days for the rash to show up once you’ve been infected, but you will start to be contagious 48 hours before the rash forms.
What Are the Symptoms?
The telltale sign of chickenpox is the red, itchy dots that spread across the body. The spots will eventually turn into fluid-filled blisters, and they will then crust over into scabs at the end of the infection. New dots can appear at any time during this cycle. About two days before the rash appears, you might experience symptoms such as fever, nausea, and loss of appetite. You can also develop a fever during the rash.
When Should You See a Doctor?
There is no cure for chickenpox, and in most cases, you can just stay at home and let the virus run its course. However, there are certain situations when visiting a doctor for your chickenpox is imperative. If you develop chickenpox and are pregnant or have a weakened immune system due to a pre-existing medical condition, you should speak to your doctor immediately. If your newborn or infant develops chickenpox, bring them to their pediatrician. Finally, you should seek immediate medical care if the rash spreads to your eyes, the rash is warm and tender, or if you begin to feel dizzy or experience shortness of breath.
How Do You Care for an Infected Person?
Isolate the person and ensure they stay home from work or school while sick so they can avoid spreading the disease. Make sure their nails are short so they can’t scratch at the blisters, and if needed, put gloves on their hands to stop them from causing damage. You can apply calamine lotion to ease the itch as well. Once healed, be sure to wash all clothing, sheets, and towels well.
If you or your child experiences severe symptoms of chickenpox, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or pediatrician at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group.
Medical News Today | Chickenpox: Symptoms, treatment, stages, and causes
CDC | Chickenpox (Varicella)
Healthline | Chickenpox
CDC | Understanding How Vaccines Work