Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the varicella zoster virus that manifests itself as an itchy red rash all over the body.
Usually occurring in children, it is often mild and easily cured. However, it is much more dangerous when it occurs in adults as it can result in severe complications such as brain infection, pneumonia, bleeding complications etc.
The virus spreads from an infected person to other people they come in contact with when they sneeze or cough and through contact or inhalation of virus particles through the blisters. Once the virus enters the body, the immune system makes antibodies to fight against it to provide protection for a lifetime. The virus however remains dormant in the body and appears as shingles in adults in some cases. Also, if exposed to infection again, the person though immune can transmit the virus to others acting as a carrier. The patient usually recovers in two weeks by using antiviral drugs as soon as the rash begins.
Chicken pox usually occurs in children, pregnant women and those with low immunity.
The symptoms of chicken pox appear a day or two before an itchy rash appears on different parts of the body, even the mouth. Some of the common symptoms are given below.
- High Fever
- Loss of appetite
Usually, after a period of fourteen days, the blisters dry up and turn into scabs. This period is the most contagious and direct contact should be avoided to prevent transmission especially to infants and pregnant women. There is no cure for chicken pox but there are ways in which the itching, fever and general discomfort can be eased. Some of the ways to control chicken pox is:
- The over-the-counter drug paracetamol works well to control high temperature.
- The blisters can be incredibly itchy and scratching them will lead to scarring. To decrease itching, apply antibacterial creams on the skin at regular intervals.
- Drinking lots of water helps avoid dehydration. It also helps soothe a dry throat.
- Take antiviral tablets for a week to lessen the severity of the symptoms but it is not to cure chicken pox.
It is important to remember that basic measures taken at home can help a child or adult suffering from chicken pox feel better. Visit a doctor at Apollo Clinics if the symptoms worry you and if the patient needs looking after.
Chicken pox is a very contagious disease but there are several ways to lower the infection of this virus.
- The best shield is the chickenpox vaccine, which protects 70-90 per cent from the virus. The vaccination is not encouraged for pregnant women and for people with a weak immune system.
- Be aware of the people around you who are infected and make a point not to be exposed to the infection by sitting near, or touching objects that might have been contaminated by the virus.
- Keeping the surroundings clean, washing the clothing and other used stuff by the infected person can also help decrease the spread of chickenpox.
- It is also wise to avoid going to public areas or have any contact with others if you are infected.