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Chickenpox

Chickenpox treatment in Gurgaon, Chicken pox treatment, chicken pox symptoms, chicken pox prevention, What is chicken pox, Chicken pox disease

Overview

Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). This infection is commonly associated with childhood. Most children who catch this infection recover without developing complications and the risk of recurrence is extremely low. This infection can cause severe complications in babies, pregnant women and adults (who have not been vaccinated or exposed to the virus in childhood).

Once infected and cured, you can’t get infected by this virus again. So it is better to get chickenpox during childhood itself. If not, vaccination is recommended as chickenpox can be severe in adults, pregnant women, newborn babies and individuals with a weakened immune system.

About The Condition

Chickenpox is a common illness caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is extremely contagious and causes an itchy blister-like rash. It occurs primarily in children under the age of 10 years. If an individual is not exposed to this virus during childhood, they can contract it at a later age which increases the risk of complications significantly. Due to the availability of the vaccine, this infection has become less common around the globe. 

Once infected by chickenpox, the patient becomes contagious 1-2 days before the rash appears. It takes anywhere between 10-21 days after being exposed to an infected person to develop symptoms. This virus also causes shingles (a painful rash that develops on one side of the face/body). 

Risk factors for Chicken Pox

The single major risk factor of chickenpox is not having had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine earlier. In case you have been vaccinated, the chances of getting chickenpox are much lower. However, if you still get infected by this virus, the symptoms are much milder. 

People who are at a higher risk of developing complications from chickenpox include:

  1. Newborns and infants below the age of 6 months. 
  2. Adolescents and adults
  3. Pregnant women (who haven’t had the chickenpox vaccine or the infection previously)
  4. People who smoke
  5. Immunocompromised people (People with immune systems weakened by medications such as chemotherapy, or with diseases affected the immune systems such as HIV)
  6. People taking steroid medications to manage conditions such as asthma

Symptoms

The itchy blister-like rash which is synonymous to chickenpox usually occurs 10-21 days after being exposed to the virus.

Chickenpox treatment in Gurgaon, Chicken pox treatment, chicken pox symptoms, chicken pox prevention, What is chicken pox, Chicken pox disease

Other signs and symptoms include:

  1. Fever
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Headache
  4. Fatigue and lethargy (malaise)
  5. Raised pink or red bumps (breaks out over several days)
  6. Blisters (forms, breaks then leaks)
  7. Crust and scabs forming over broken blister

Complications of Chicken Pox

Chickenpox infection generally lasts for 4-7 days. In certain cases, chickenpox can result in complications such as:

  1. Secondary bacterial infections of the skin and soft tissues
  2. Infection of the lungs (pneumonia)
  3. Infection or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis, cerebellar ataxia)
  4. Bleeding problems
  5. Sepsis
  6. Toxic shock syndrome

While chickenpox is rarely fatal, some deaths can occur due to complications caused by the infection. 

Seek medical attention if:

  1. The rash spreads to one or both eyes
  2. Rash becomes red, warm or tender
  3. Dizziness, disorientation, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, tremors, loss of muscle coordination, cough, vomiting, stiff neck or high fever
  4. In case the patient is immuno-compromised or is younger than 6 months

Diagnosis of Chicken Pox

Diagnosis of chickenpox is usually done by examining the rash. Laboratory tests including blood tests and culture of lesion samples can be done to confirm the diagnosis. 

Treatment of Chicken Pox

In healthy children, medical intervention is not generally required for chickenpox. The paediatrician might prescribe antihistamines to relieve itching. A few home remedies are recommended to manage mild symptoms. These include:

  1. Avoid scratching (put gloves on the child especially at night and trim his/her fingernails)
  2. Relieve the itching with a cool bath. Add baking soda, uncooked or colloidal oatmeal and aluminium acetate to the bathwater for best results. You can also apply calamine lotion on the rash to reduce itching.
  3. Follow a soft bland diet especially if chickenpox sores start developing the mouth. 

 In case of patients who have a high risk of developing complications, doctors can prescribe medications to reduce the severity of chickenpox. This is given within 24 hours of the rash appearing. 

In case complications have already developed, the doctor would begin medical treatments based on the complication.

Chickenpox treatment in Gurgaon, Chicken pox treatment, chicken pox symptoms, chicken pox prevention, What is chicken pox, Chicken pox disease

Prevention

Currently, the best way to prevent chickenpox or complications arising due to chickenpox is to get vaccinated. It should ideally be administered to children below the age of 13 years. This vaccine is usually given in two doses. The chickenpox vaccine is recommended by the Indian Association of Paediatrics but is not available in the public health distribution system. If your child has not yet been vaccinated, get in touch with your paediatrician to discuss the suitability. 

FAQs

1. Can I get chickenpox even though I had before?

People who have had chickenpox before generally develop immunity to the virus. However, in rare cases, people once infected have been infected again. However, the symptoms are usually mild.

2. Is the chickenpox vaccine safe?

Many people are apprehensive about the safety of vaccines. Research has consistently found the chickenpox vaccine safe and effective. Side effects observed are usually mild. In case the patient gets chickenpox after being vaccinated, the symptoms including rashes are milder as compared to people who haven’t been vaccinated. 

3. Can everyone be vaccinated against chickenpox?

The chickenpox vaccine is not recommended for:

  1.  Pregnant women 
  2. People with weakened immune systems
  3. People allergic to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin

4. Can chickenpox be fatal?

Chickenpox is generally mild in children who are otherwise healthy. However, in certain cases (pregnant women, immunocompromised people, adolescents and adults) complications can develop, resulting in death.

5. How does chickenpox affect pregnant women?

Chickenpox can pose serious risks to both the mother and baby during pregnancy. If chickenpox develops during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy (first trimester), the baby can develop a serious but rare group of birth defects called congenital varicella syndrome. If chickenpox develops right before or after birth (a few days before or after), the baby can be born with a potentially life-threatening infection called neonatal varicella.

 
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