All about chickenpox
Be in the know of this very common illness so you can be prepared when your child gets hit by the pox.
Chickenpox is a classic childhood disease that is caused by the varicella virus or varicella zoster virus. It is highly contagious and most children catch it any time of their growing years. Adults can also be contaminated by this illness.
What are the characteristics of chickenpox?
Characterised by one or several itchy, red spots, it usually starts to develop on the chest and back areas. Soon after, the rash will spread out to the face, limbs, scalp, and even to the private parts of the body. It will soon be filled with fluid that will easily burst at the slightest contact.
Chickenpox is accompanied by fever and headache as well as cough and runny nose. A person with chickenpox always feels very tired and cannot resist scratching the blisters.
How does a person get infected?
Chickenpox spreads quickly from one person to another. Even if a sick person has no obvious signs of red spots, you can still be contaminated once he/she coughs or sneezes near you. If you accidentally touched the blister, you can also be infected.
When do I see the signs?
The red spots start to develop a week or two after getting the virus. But a day or two before having the pox, a person can already become contagious. This will continue until the blisters do not develop into crusts.
For most children, they will get fever or tummy ache a day or two before the red spots appear. It is common to have between 250 and 500 itchy red spots that will all turn into fluid-filled blisters. For children with eczema or other skin problems, it can reach up to 1,500 rashes or blisters.
How can I prevent my child from having chickenpox?
This very contagious illness is airborne so it is very difficult to prevent a child from developing the pox. Nevertheless, a chickenpox vaccine is given to the child as part of his/her regular immunization schedule.
If the mother have already received a vaccine or have had chickenpox, her child will usually not be infected with the disease before the first birthday because of the antibodies from the mother’s blood. The child must be vaccinated, not to guarantee that he or she will never develop the pox in his or her lifetime, but only to mitigate the severity of the disease if ever it appears.
How do I treat chickenpox?
A child with the pox usually feels very tired, irritated, and uncomfortable. It is important not to scratch the blisters to prevent scarring. If this cannot be helped, trim the fingernails short. A lukewarm bath with oatmeal can be given to soothe the skin. If the itchiness won’t subside, ask your health service provider to provide an oral antihistamine or topical lotions. People living on the same roof as the infected person may be asked to take antiviral medicine to reduce the chances of developing a more severe case of the pox.