Chicken Pox

Chickenpox blisters

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview

Infections mediated by virus or bacteria are usually contagious in nature. Despite appropriate vaccinations and occurrence of the same disease in the past, patients of all age groups and ethnicity are vulnerable to all kinds of viral and bacterial infections. World Health organization(WHO) has identified Chicken pox as one of the most contagious viral disease. Adequate vaccinations and related campaigns have been organized in different countries to curb the effects of the Chicken pox virus. WHO has reported a steady decline in the rate of chicken pox infected patients by 90% in the United States, after the chicken pox vaccine was licensed in 1995.

What is chicken pox?

Chickenpox blistersChicken pox is a form of viral infection caused by the Varicella Zoster virus (also called Herpes Zoster virus), which is mainly observed in children, especially the ones under 12 years of age.

World Health Organization has confirmed that 90% people not getting immunized against Varicella virus in childhood are susceptible to chicken pox in future.

Although this illness can occur throughout the year, but in temperate regions of the world it occurs mainly towards the end of Winter or beginning of Spring.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported the highest rate of Varicella infection in the United States during March to May, and a lowest rate between September and November. In tropical countries the Varicella virus is not so seasonal in nature.

What causes this illness?

It is primarily caused by the Varicella Zoster virus. But at a later stage, multiple complications can arise due to secondary bacterial infections of the skin lesions (caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus species). Children below 1 year of age may be victims of secondary bacterial infection causing pneumonia.

Studies reveal that primary infection by the Varicella Zoster virus causes Chicken pox. But sometimes the Varicella virus resides in dormant state in the sensory nerve ganglia after the first occurrence of infection. Reactivation of this latent Varicella virus at some later stage causes shingles (Herpes Zoster).

How Does The Varicella Virus Affect The Human Body?

The Varicella virus invades the body via respiratory tract and conjunctiva (eye membrane). The virus then multiplies at the site of intrusion, mainly in the nasopharynx and the lymph node regions. A primary viral infection (viremia) occurs after 4 to 6 days, which spreads the virus to vital organs such as liver, spleen and sensory ganglia. Secondary viral infection (secondary viremia) takes place due to subsequent replication of the virus in the viscera. This causes viral infection of the skin.

How Can One Recognise This Disease?

Chicken pox in adultsThe symptoms of chicken pox start manifesting themselves after 10 to 21 days of exposure to the Varicella Zoster virus. The primary symptoms of chicken pox are listed below:

  • Mild symptoms at the beginning include skin rashes (within 3-4 days) , low-grade fever, body pains, head-aches, fatigue, loss of appetite and runny nose.
  • In advanced stages, rashes (250-300 in number) appear at multiple regions of the body like face, chest, back and limbs. In extreme case, rashes might appear inside the mouth or on the scalp.
  • As the disease matures, the rashes turn into fluid filled, elevated blisters which worsen on itching
  • After this fluid is discharged, the blisters degrade and form crusty surfaces (scabs) (occurs after 5-7 days)
  • Sunken sores appear on the skin after the crusts peel off.
  • Scarring occurs after the rashes disappear
  • Persistent fever occurs even after the rashes are gone. 

What Are The Differences between Chicken pox and Shingles?

A clear understanding of the differences between chicken pox and shingles is necessary to facilitate proper diagnosis. Shingles usually occur in adults with a history of chicken pox. It is characterized by rashes (which closely resemble rashes in chicken pox) within a specific region (usually on one side of the body). Severe pain occurs due to damage of a particular nerve by the virus, and the rashes normally appear wherever the nerve passes through.  Even after the rashes disappear, continuous pain and irritation persist. This is known as post-herpetic neuralgia. Survey by CDC suggests that among 1 million people affected by shingles annually in USA, about 50% are above 60.

What Are The Possible Transmission Routes?

Chicken pox is highly contagious and can invariably spread from one person to another. The infection spreads mainly one or two days before appearance of eruptions and five days after the crusty scabs are formed. The usual transmission mediums of chicken pox are as follows:

  • In the early stage, the infection is spread due to normal acts like coughing or sneezing
  • In the mature stage, the virus spreads due to direct contact with the fluid within the blisters (especially during dressing of blisters).
  • Sharing of common items of use like towels, utensils, bed-sheets etc which might contain the fluid from blisters.

Congenital Type

There is a 30% chance of occurrence of chicken pox in a new-born if the mother is infected with the virus about 2-5 days before the delivery. In the post natal stage also, chicken pox can spread from mother to the child via breast milk.

What Are The Long-term Effects?

In few patients the following permanent physiological damages occur even after remission of chicken pox infections:

  • Staph or Strep infections due to damage of skin and soft tissue
  • Inflammation of brain can lead to encephalitis
  • Pneumonia can occur in infants

Prevention and Treatment

Chickenpox in childrenHigh fever, sensitivity to light, weakness, and dehydration are some of the main symptoms, in addition to the boils on the skin.

While most cases  of chicken pox can be managed at home, it is always advisable to seek medical intervention.

Cold compresses and calamine lotion when applied on the blisters provide relief.

Refrain from using Benadryl-containing (diphenhydramine) lotions.

You can also take cool baths every 3-4 hours with neem leaves or baking powder added to the bathing water. This provides substantial relief from the itching. Don’t scratch the blisters as it may lead to secondary bacterial infections. Drink plenty of fluids as dehydration is common in chicken pox. There are certain drugs such as aspirin which shouldnt be given to chicken pox affected children.

Chicken pox usually helps the body build immunity against future infections by the Varicella virus. People having no past infection and people who were not provided immunization vaccines (like MMRV vaccine) in the childhood are more prone to Chicken pox in future than others. Recommendations related to vaccinations in childhood should be authentic to avoid complications like swollenness, fever etc due to vaccines. Two doses of Chicken pox vaccine should be injected before 4-6 years of age to prevent future infections. People having HIV infection or undergoing blood transfusion should consult an expert before getting vaccinated for Chicken pox. Mass awareness should be spread via health campaigns to solve the global health issue related to Chicken pox.

Chickenpox home remedies

There are several effective home remedies to speed up the recovery process for chicken pox. The most potent home remedy against chicken pox virus is neem leaves. In a tub of lukewarm water add 10-15 neem leaves and let it soak for 10-15 minutes. Take bath from this water 1-2 times a day. The strong antiviral properties of the neem leaves will help in getting rid of the virus effectively. Baking soda baths also help in reducing the itching.

Another useful kitchen ingredient in treating chicken pox is oatmeal. Take finely ground oatmeal and add it in a tub of warm water. Let it soak for some time and then take bath from this water. Just like neem, this will also help in reducing the itchy symptoms. Applying calamine lotion on the blisters can also soothe the itching. It is important to understand that under no circumstance must one scratch or prick the blisters, regardless of how much they itch. One must wear mittens or gloves in order to keep oneself from scratching and poking the blisters.


TL;DR?

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Keep your body well-hydrated and get plentiful of rest so that your immunity builds up faster.
  • Neem leaves are excellent for getting rid of the persistent itching and rashes. Spread neem leaves on the bed and take bath with water boiled with neem leaves.
  • The key to treating chicken pox is keeping your body cool. Avoid oily and spicy food.
  • Wear light and loose clothes.
Don'ts
  • Resort to scratching the rashes and blisters, even though these are extremely itchy.
  • Leave the patient alone during the first 72 hours. During the first three days, the patient is likely to suffer from extreme weakness and can even faint.
  • Administer aspirin to children suffering from chicken pox as it may lead to the onset of Reye’s Syndrome.

 

 

 

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Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…
Miracle extract from the root of maca: 10 ways it can help you! Maca root has been used for years in herbal medicine. Today scientific research is unearthing fresh evidence in…
Poop chart: Top things you didn’t you your poop could reveal about you Bristol poop chart was designed during the 1990s in order to help doctors identify various types of poops…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
xylitol gum
Xylitol : Is this the right sugar substitute for you? Discovered during World War 2 owing to sugar shortage, xylitol has become a common name in pharamaceutical industry.…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
Shilajit: A miracle Himalayan herb for an active and happy life The Himalayas contain more wonders than you thought. Shilajit is a miracle herb that is widely used in…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
ASTtest-liver
AST- Aspartate Aminotransferase Test AST test is a blood test that is used to measure the level of a particular liver enzyme…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
leptospira Igm test
Leptospira-IgM Test A Leptospira-IgM test is a blood test which is carried out to detect anti-Leptospira IgM antibody. Leptospirosis is…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
DHEA wrinkles
DHEA: Now get unbelievable age defiance with this wonder hormone! DHEA is known popularly as the age-defying hormone. This supplement is widely used to slow down aging and…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that rise out of…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
Low fat diets
A complete list of low-fat diets and how to follow them Low-fat diets help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it works only with regular exercise and…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
rosacea-treatment--before-_-after
The best and safest ways to treat rosacea Rosacea is a skin disease that is characterized by reddish hives and rashes on the face. Read more…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
Burpees: World’s most challenging fitness routine now made simple for you The majority of the fitness regimens mainly concentrate on a particular muscle group whereas Burpees is s whole…
Beginner to Tai Chi? Find the right way to perform this exercise for best results According to the Chinese tradition, it is believed that practicing Tai chi helps in promoting self awareness and…
CT-scan-machine
CT – Computed Tomography Scan CT scan or computed tomography scan is an diagnostic imaging technique where cross-sectional images of body are obtained…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
cardioliin antibody iga
Cardiolipin Antibody (ACL) – IgA test Cardiolipins are phospholipids that are constituents of the platelets and the cell membranes. The IgA test detects the…
antihepatitis core antigent
Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) Total Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC ) is a blood examination and the only serological marker of infectious blood…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…

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