Chickenpox Symptoms and Treatment
Chickenpox (varicella) is a highly contagious infectious disease that occurs mainly in children and causes an itchy rash with blisters. The disease is usually benign. In most cases,there are no complications of chickenpox. Pregnancy and a weakened immune system include some risk factors for a complicated disease.
What is Chickenpox?
Chickenpox (varicella) is a highly contagious infectious disease that mainly make children sick. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus. This virus belongs to the herpes virus. These viruses can remain in the body and be reactivated after healing of chickenpox.These remaning viruses can cause shingles (zoster) in the further of our life.
The chickenpox initial stage is uncharacteristic; Typical itchy skin rash with blisters occur. The disease is not a big problem which lasts about three to five days and heal out without complications. In this case, the chickenpox treatment is only symptomatic. Patients with an increased risk of complications arenewborns and people with weakened immune system.
Chickenpox in Adults
Since the first contact with the chickenpox pathogens in most people already occur in childhood and you can not fall ill twice to chickenpox(varicella). But there are at least about five percent of adults who have no protection against the chickenpox. These adults must be vaccinated aganist varicella.
The symptoms are the same as in children in adults in principle.Rash usually differs in elderly with more bubbles than small children. Adult patients usually complain a stronger malaise.
The biggest danger with a varicella infection in adulthood is the increased risk for complicated diseases: Adults have fivefold greater risk of developing severe varicella pneumonia than children. This refers to a condition by the chickenpox infection pneumonia, which can be fatal sometimes. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of developing such a pneumonia.
In addition, chickenpox can cause disturbances in the central nervous system in adults such as balance disorders or neck stiffness. Also, women who develop chickenpox during pregnancy can transfer this to her unborn child. This may cause malformations in the fetus.
Chickenpox in adults last usually longer than in children. In the latter case, the varicella are healed up usually after seven to ten days.
The chickenpox symptoms are very characteristic. The main feature of the viral disease is an itchy rash. This starts on the trunk and face, before it spreads all over the body. There are also general signs of illness such as fever or malaise. Find out everything important to the symptoms for chicken pox.
Typical Chickenpox Symptoms as Rash and Blisters
From the third to the fifth day of illness, characteristic rash of chickenpox is developed.Red spots and bubbles develop within a few hours. They are very itchy and can crust over within one to two days. N ew papules can form over a period of about three to five days repeatedly. Typically the rash begins on the trunk and face. Then the chicken pox spread out on the arms and legs. Finally,it can also be seen on scalp,oral mucosa and in the genital area.
Chickenpox cause different many bubbles in each patient. Usually the number is between 250 and 500. It can be found in small children often fewer bubbles than in adults. The rash is often accompanied by fever up to 39° C.
Other Chickenpox Symptoms
- Unsteadiness or neck stiffness for involvement of the central nervous system
- Shortness of breath in the formation of pneumonia
- Malformations of the unborn child with an infection of the mother during pregnancy
- There can be scars after healing from illness
- There can be additional inflammation if blisters are scratched.
Chickenpox Causes and Risk Factors
Chickenpox viruses are varicella zoster viruses. They belong to the herpes viruses are found worldwide only in humans and are highly contagious. In winter and spring, it always comes back to seasonal accumulations of varicella. The pathogen is transmitted by droplet or smear. In a droplet infection the virus pass through breathing, sneezing or coughing of an infected person in the air and then can infect other people.
The time between infection and the onset of chickenpox (incubation period) is on average 14 to 16 days, but can vary between 8 and 28 days.
Chickenpox Investigation and Diagnosis
Chickenpox diagnosis is made mainly by doctor based on the characteristic rash. Furthermore, doctor want to learn patient’s medical history .For example, what symptoms occur and how long these are. Only in special cases, a specific diagnosis for screening chickenpox infection is necessary. For example immunocompromised, patients, patients with a neurological disease or pneumonia in pregnant women and newborns.
In a course of benign chickenpox is treated symptomatically. This means that the symptoms and side effects such as itching are treated. In this way, complications (particularly bacterial infections) may be prevented. The following methods are used:
- Stopping in a cool environment, because heat and sweat intensify the itch
- Cut nails for avoiding to scratch the blisters
- Daily bathing
- Taking of antipruritic drugs (antihistamines)
- In severe cases, the chickenpox pathogens can be treated directly. Antivirals are used primarily in patients with weakened immune systems.
How to prevent Chickenpox
The chickenpox vaccine (varicella vaccine) can prevent the outbreak of infectious disease. But even if an unvaccinated person has already come with the chickenpox pathogens into contact.There is still solution which reset of vaccination or passive immunization can be applied.
The chickenpox vaccine (varicella vaccine) protects against the highly contagious infection with varicella zoster virus.It is recommended chickenpox vaccine for all children and adolescents who have not yet come into contact with the pathogen.
A live vaccine is used for the chickenpox. It contains attenuated pathogens, which can no longer trigger the disease. They stimulate the human immune system to form specific antibodies.
For long-term protection (basic immunisation) must be a first and a second vaccination against chicken pox: the first chicken pox vaccine is in the age between 11 and 14 months and the second in the age between 15 and 23 months. Distance must be at least four to six weeks between the two doses of the vaccine. The first varicella vaccine can be done at the same time with the first vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella.
How important is the chickenpox vaccine?
Chickenpox are harmless in many patients. However, there is a risk of complications for each disease.Chickenpox can lead to severe forms with lung and brain inflammation. In some cases, the disease can even lead to death. Especially older patients are more frequently affected by complications. This suggests the importance of chickenpox vaccine.
Are there any side effects with the chickenpox vaccine?
In general, the chickenpox vaccine is well tolerated. Chickenpox vaccine injection may cause some reactions to injected area of the skin. These include redness or swelling of the skin and pain. In addition, the body temperature can be increased slightly by the chickenpox vaccine.
Chickenpox Disease Course and Prognosis
The disease is usually without complications in healthy people.If sores are scratched , it may lead to a bacterial infection in the affected area. This can leave scars.
In very rare cases , chickenpox can take complicated course of the disease. The following medical conditions may occur:
- Bacterial superinfection (additional inflammation of the bubbles by bacteria)
- Varicella (fatal pneumonia)
- Disease of the nervous system (such as encephalitis)
- Fetal varicella syndrome in unborn children if the mother falls ill in the first six months of pregnancy to chickenpox: The syndrome includes skin lesions, malformations of the nervous system,skeleton and eye damage.
- Clinically severe neonatal varicella (baby whose mother became ill before between five days and two days after the birth of chicken pox)
Heart, cornea, joints or kidneys can be affected by the chickenpox