Chickenpox – Symptoms, Cause, Tests, Diagnosis of Chicken Pox

Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is the virus responsible for the highly contagious disease commonly known as chickenpox. It is usually a disease seen in young children, from the ages of 4 to 12 years of age.
?A person is contagious from one to five days before the rash appears and continues to be contagious until all the blisters have scabbed over. This means that a person can contract chickenpox from someone who hasn’t even showed signs of the disease yet, making avoidance nearly impossible.
?The incubation period is 10-21 days from the time of contact with a contagious person.
?Chickenpox is easily transmitted by coughing, sneezing or direct contact with open sores of an infected person.
It starts with a red skin rash which then develops into tiny liquid filled blisters that itch intensely. The blisters form mainly on the trunk and head, sometimes spreading to other parts of the body including the mucus membranes, such as the mouth, throat or nose. Within about two to three days, the blisters then begin to break open and become small open sores. They then begin to scab over. It takes approximately seven to ten days for the scabs to fall off after the onset of the initial rash. They heal for the most part without much scarring.
?Chickenpox usually goes away without any type of medical intervention.
?After a person develops chickenpox there is generally lifelong immunity from further episodes of chickenpox, even if the person is exposed again to an infected person.
?Chickenpox is usually more severe in adults than in healthy children and they run an increased risk for complications. Those people with suppressed immune systems and pregnant women are at the highest risk for complications.
?Pregnant women who were not previously immune to the disease and develop it during pregnancy can pass the infection via the placenta to the fetus. Depending on when the infection occurs, this can lead to a host of fetal malformations including underdeveloped fingers and toes, brain damage, neurological disorders and skin problems. It is essential that pregnant women avoid anyone who has been exposed to chickenpox or has shown signs of developing the disease.
?A reactivation of the varicella zoster virus can occur after the initial infection with chickenpox. When this occurs it is called shingles. This reactivation can occur decades after the initial infection.

Symptoms of Chickenpox
?A rash which appears like blisters primarily on the trunk and head
?Flu-like symptoms
?Fever
?Loss of appetite
?Feelings of discomfort because of intense itching
?Irritability

Other Symtoms
?Dry cough
?Headache

Treatment of Chickenpox
Please consult your doctor before starting any treatment.
The only treatments available for chickenpox are aimed at relieving the symptoms:
?If a fever develops, Tylenol (acetaminophine) can be given to help reduce it.
?Aspirin must not be given to children with chickenpox as it can lead to a serious and possibly fatal disease called Reye’s syndrome.
?Calamine lotion and Benadryl, used both orally and topically, can be applied to the blisters to help relieve the itching. Be especially careful not to rupture the blisters because the fluid inside is highly contagious.
?Sometimes soaking in an oatmeal bath can also help relieve the itching. The blisters must be kept clean to avoid any secondary bacterial infections.
?Oral acyclovir, an antiviral drug, can be given once the rash emerges, but only reduces the time of infection by one day. It is not recommended in otherwise healthy children.
?In adults, who usually develop more severe cases and immune-compromised patients acyclovir can be given as long as it’s given within the first 24-48 hours after the rash appears.

Avoid
?Avoid contact with people who have been known to have been exposed to people with chickenpox.
?Avoid contact with people who have chickenpox if possible.
?Avoid direct contact with open sores.
?Avoid contact with any secretions from a person infected with chickenpox.
?Avoid scratching the blisters as this will cause contagious fluid to leak and also possible cause bacterial infections of the sores.

Causes of Chickenpox
?The cause of chickenpox is from this website the exposure and contraction of the varicella zoster virus in a previously uninfected or a person who hasn’t been immunized.

Risk Factors
?Exposure to a person who’s been exposed to an infected person or one who is contagious with the varicella zoster virus is when it’s in its active phase.
?Anyone who has not received the vaccination against chickenpox is at an increased risk of contracting the illness.
?People who have compromised immune systems, adults who have never had the chickenpox and pregnant women are all at increased risk for developing complications.
?Anyone taking any type of steroid medication for another condition such as asthma is at higher risk because of lowered immune systems.

Diagnosis of Chickenpox
?The doctor’s diagnosis is usually made by observing the characteristic rash of chickenpox along with any accompanying symptoms.

Tests for Chickenpox
?Blood tests and tests of the pox themselves can be used if there’s any doubt about the diagnosis, but usually tests are not required.

Things to Tell/Ask your Doctor
?Ask your doctor about pain relieving creams for sores, especially in the genital area.
?If the person runs a fever for more than 4 days or if it rises above 102* F consult your physician.
If the person has a stiff neck or severe headaches consult your physician.

Overview with Indian Name (s):
Chickenpox (maa) is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus. It is usually a disease seen in young children.
?Chickenpox is easily transmitted by coughing, sneezing or by direct contact with open sores of an infected person.
?It starts with a red skin rash that develops into tiny liquid filled blisters that are very itchy. In about two to three days the blisters then begin to break open and then they begin to scab over. It takes about seven to ten days for the scabs to fall off.
?Chickenpox usually goes away without any type of medical intervention.
?After a person develops chickenpox there is generally lifelong immunity from recurrences.
?Chickenpox is usually more severe in adults, people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women.
?Shingles is a reactivation of the virus that happens after the first infection with chickenpox. This reactivation usually will occur in later life.

Incidence/Causes in India:
Chickenpox is primarily a disease of childhood. However, this pattern is not consistent everywhere. In rural India, chickenpox is largely a disease of adults, the mean age of infection being 23.4 years. This could be due to interference by other respiratory viruses that children are exposed to, and living, working or gathering in overcrowded areas increases the incidence greatly.

Miscellaneous:
In India, the high cost of the vaccination makes it difficult to vaccinate all of the children. If only a small number of children are vaccinated, because the actual duration of the vaccine is unknown, in years down the road it is possible that children will still be developing chickenpox and the adults will get it from them. Adult onset chickenpox is generally more severe than it is in healthy children.

Chickenpox Conditions
?Shingles
?Herpes Zoster

References/Resources:
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Alternate Therapy for Chickenpox
In a study of 621 Bhattara women, it was shown that they generally use traditional therapies rather than seeing a doctor. It was shown that they also believe that the chickenpox (maa) and the measles (gundi) occur as a result of the wrath of the Goddess(thakurani) upon the patient and they choose to visit the desari rather than a physician.

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