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Chickenpox

 

Chickenpox is the common viral infection.This disease occurs most often during winter and spring.Throughout the world, about 90% of people become affected by chickenpox at some point, if they do not receive the vaccine.In US, chickenpox affects largely children and in other countries, particularly tropical countries, it affects mainly adults.

Its severity can vary from person to person and for healthy children chickenpox usually is not a serious illness.It can cause some complications in pregnant women, newborns, people aged 15 and older, and people who have immune system problems.

In children younger than 5, bacterial skin infection is the most common complication.It is caused by scratching the rash, as a result the bacteria from the skin or under fingernails infects the chickenpox blister.Another complication is muscle coordination problem,if the virus affects part of the brain.The common complication in case of adults is varicella pneumonia.

Babies born to women who had chickenpox in the first or early second trimester of pregnancy may develop congenital varicella syndrome, which can cause birth defects such as eye problems or an underdeveloped limb.

You or your child is at risk for chickenpox if you never had the infection and have not put the chickenpox vaccine. Your risk is especially high if you are exposed to a household member with chickenpox because of the close contact.Exposure to chickenpox means being around a person who has symptoms of chickenpox or develops them within 2 to 3 days.

Once you have chickenpox, you are considered immune. you will not have a serious infection again but you may have a mild infection which is called a breakthrough infection. If the virus becomes active again, it will not result in chickenpox but can cause shingles, or herpes zoster.

Symptoms

The incubation period, which is the period of time from exposure to the chickenpox virus until you develop symptoms is normally 14-16 days.The person may become sick and have a fever for 1 or 2 days before the chickenpox rash develops.The most distinctive sign of infection is an itchy rash of red spots and blisters. Some children may have a worse rash and more symptoms than others.

It takes about 1 or 2 days for a chickenpox red spot (macule) to go through all of its stages, including blistering, bursting, drying, and crusting over. New red spots continue to develop every day for as long as 5 to 7 days. Symptoms usually last about 10 days.

Children usually can return to school or day care when they stop developing new red spots.

Other illnesses can have symptoms similar to those of chickenpox. For this reason, you may think you have had chickenpox twice when you have had two different infections.

Causes

Chickenpox is caused by a virus called varicella-zoster virus which is a type of herpes virus.Normally it spreads like a cold, entering through your respiratory tract after an infected person sneezes, coughs, or shares food or drinks.

Also, if the person can become infected if the virus gets on your hands and you don't wash them before you touch your face.It can also spread through skin to skin through open sores.A person infected with chickenpox can spread the virus before developing any symptoms. Chickenpox is most contagious from 2 to 3 days before the rash develops until all the blisters have crusted over.

Treatment

Most healthy children and adults will need only home treatment for chickenpox which includes resting and taking medications to reduce fever and itching.

People with long-term (chronic) diseases or other health problems may need additional treatment for chickenpox. This may include a shot of chickenpox antibodies or antiviral medication soon after being exposed to the virus to shorten the length and severity of the disease.

Diagnosis

This is diagnosed by the physician by having a physical examination and with some questions regarding the patient's medical history.This is enough information to diagnose chickenpox.

It may not be necessary for otherwise healthy children with chickenpox symptoms to visit a health professional. You usually know when your child has chickenpox from the distinctive rash. Symptoms usually can be described over the phone for a diagnosis. In addition, avoiding an office visit will reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.

Teenagers, adults especially pregnant women and anyone with other conditions or illnesses should see a health professional.

Prevention

We can prevent the disease by getting the chickenpox vaccine, which is recommended for most children between 12 and 18 months old. The vaccine also may be given to an older child or adult who has not had chickenpox. Many states now require that children entering day care and school have proof that they are either immune to chickenpox or have had the vaccine.

A blood test can determine whether you have immunity against the varicella virus. It is safe to get the chickenpox vaccine even if you are already immune to it.

Occasionally chickenpox develops even in people who receive the vaccine. This is called a breakthrough infection. If this happens the patient will likely develop a mild form of the disease with few blisters and symptoms.

Although the chickenpox vaccine is a live form of the virus, most children do not have a reaction after receiving it. About 20% have redness or soreness at the injection site, and 3% to 5% develop a chickenpoxlike rash. If a rash develops usually it is very mild, with between 2 and 5 sores appearing 5 to 26 days after you receive the vaccine.

If it has a serious or chronic illness, discuss the appropriateness of the chickenpox vaccine with the health professional.

We can also prevent the infection by getting a shot of chickenpox antibodies or the vaccine soon after exposure to the virus.

 

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Chickenpox

 
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