Chicken Pox: What is it, Symptoms, Contagiousness and Treatment
Chickenpox is an infectious disease characterized by red rashes on the skin. Although this condition is mostly seen in children, it can affect people of all ages. The resulting body rash may turn into pus-filled blisters over time. Other symptoms may include high fever, headache, body aches, fatigue and loss of appetite. Symptoms of chickenpox begin to appear approximately 10-21 days after infection and are mild or moderate. The most common way chickenpox is transmitted is through the respiratory route, but it can also be transmitted through direct contact or through contact with infected surfaces. Chickenpox can usually be treated at home, and antipyretic and antipruritic medications can be used to relieve symptoms.
What is Chickenpox?
Chickenpox, also known as varicella in medicine, is a medical condition caused by the varicella-zoster virus and is among the infectious diseases. Chickenpox causes red, itchy skin lesions, which can become inflamed over the next few days. Symptoms appear on average 21 days after a person becomes infected with the virus, and it continues to spread to others for up to 48 hours before the skin rash begins. Although chickenpox is usually seen in children, it is a condition that can affect people of all ages. When chickenpox is examined in terms of its contagiousness, it can be said that it is highly contagious and can spread quickly through breathing.
What are the symptoms of chickenpox?
Although the most common symptom of chickenpox is known as a red skin rash, a general feeling of discomfort begins to appear approximately 2 days before these rashes. Symptoms can be similar for children and adults and are usually mild to moderate. Common symptoms of chickenpox may include:
- High fever
- body aches
- Fatigue, weakness
- Loss of appetite
- state of nervousness
2 days after the above-mentioned symptoms, skin rashes begin to appear and these rashes occur in 3 stages. Those stages are as follows:
- The appearance of painful, itchy skin blisters that can spread inside the mouth and around the genital area
- Rashes are pink, red or darker in color depending on skin tone
- The blisters that appear fill with fluid and become very itchy.
- Drying and crusting of blisters
Chickenpox symptoms are usually mild and go away on their own within a few days. However, more severe symptoms may occur in young children and people with low immune resistance. For this reason, it is necessary to consult a health institution if there are symptoms of chickenpox.
What Causes Chicken Pox?
Chickenpox is an infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This condition occurs due to exposure to the chickenpox virus or contact with a person infected with the virus. In this case, the risk of contamination continues until 48 hours before the blisters appear and until the rash dries. Chickenpox may occur due to:
- Contact with bubbles
The substances mentioned above are the causes of chickenpox transmission. Some risk factors that cause this situation can be listed as follows:
- Being under 12 years of age.
- Going to or working in places such as schools, nurseries, or nursing homes.
- Having low immune resistance due to diseases such as cancer or HIV.
- Being pregnant.
- Not having had chickenpox before.
- Not getting vaccinated.
People who have had chickenpox or have been vaccinated develop antibodies against this virus, and it is very rare for it to reoccur. However, the virus remains dormant and herpes zoster (shingles) may occur years later.
How is Chickenpox Diagnosed?
Chickenpox can usually be diagnosed during clinical examination because it causes noticeable skin rash and itching. Since this condition is accompanied by other cold-like symptoms such as high fever, weakness, and loss of appetite, doctors may also use some laboratory tests for differential diagnosis.
Chickenpox During Pregnancy
Chickenpox is a disease generally experienced at young ages and is rare in pregnant women. However, its occurrence during pregnancy is a condition that may be more harmful to the mother and baby than normal people, and some risks may arise. Some of the possible risks may include miscarriage, premature birth, or the birth of a low-weight baby. Since pregnancy is a sensitive period that requires attention, it is necessary to consult a doctor as soon as possible in case of symptoms or contact with chickenpox.
What are the treatments for chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a condition that generally resolves spontaneously at home and has no specific treatment. The treatment principle may include some methods of relieving symptoms. Some of those methods are:
- Reducing fever: High fever may be one of the most common symptoms of chickenpox. Some painkillers and antipyretics such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, taken with the doctor’s recommendation, can be used to control the fever.
- Reducing itching: As you scratch the rash on the body, it may become more tender or spread. For this purpose, some antihistamines and topical creams used as itch relievers can be used.
- Increasing fluid intake: High fever and filled blisters can cause dehydration in the body. Therefore, drinking plenty of water and home-made juices can help prevent dehydration.
- Preventing inflammation: Scratching or popping red rashes can cause inflammation. It may be useful to wait for the rash to dry and crust over and to gently dress it with cloths soaked in cold water to provide relief.
- Other methods: Wearing thin, cotton, loose-fitting clothes and taking frequent warm showers during the treatment period may be helpful in reducing symptoms. Additionally, isolating and resting as much as possible can be considered as one of the methods that should be applied.
The methods mentioned are among the methods that may be useful in the treatment of chickenpox. However, it is necessary to consult a healthcare professional for the best treatment.
What are the Ways to Prevent Chickenpox?
The most effective way to protect yourself from chickenpox is to get vaccinated. The vaccine can protect against the chickenpox virus and reduce its symptoms and severity. However, since chickenpox is an infectious disease, it may not always be possible to be completely protected. Below are some methods that may be useful in protecting against chickenpox:
- Staying away from the infected person: Avoiding direct contact or being in the same environment with a person infected with chickenpox can help reduce the risk of transmission. However, if there is a necessity, it is necessary to use a protective mask and gloves, ventilate the environment frequently and disinfect the surfaces touched by the patient.
- Paying attention to hygiene rules: Washing hands frequently can protect against the chickenpox virus and is also a method that should be applied to protect against other infectious conditions.
- Keeping the immune system strong: In order to keep the immune system strong, it may be necessary to eat a balanced and adequate diet, pay attention to sleep patterns, exercise and try to stay away from stress. With a strong immunity, protection against chickenpox and other contagious infections can be provided.
- Chickenpox vaccine: Chickenpox vaccine is a vaccine that provides protection against the varicella zoster virus and is used to reduce symptoms and complications. Chickenpox vaccine is given to young children between the ages of 12 and 15. It is administered in 2 doses at months and 4-5 years of age and is included in the routine vaccination program.
The methods mentioned above may help prevent chickenpox. However, it is necessary to consult a healthcare professional for chickenpox vaccination and other methods of protection.