Chickenpox is a highly infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is long considered as an ordeal children had to go through growing up. Most people are infected by the virus are younger than 15 years of age but adults may also contract the virus and exhibit symptoms.
Prior to chickenpox vaccination, almost the entire population of humans was infected by the time they reach adulthood and some developed serious complications. These days, chickenpox cases and hospitalizations are much lower than it used to be.
Signs and symptoms
- Itchy red rash across the chest, scalp, back and face
- Small and watery blisters the size of insect bites which break open and crust over
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Dry cough
- Papules or pink or red bumps on the skin breaks out on the skin all over.
- Vesicles or watery blisters form from the papules for 24 hours then breaks and leaks.
- Scabs will appear covering the broken vesicles or blisters.
Infected people can have all stages of chickenpox characterized by red bumps, blisters and broken lesions at one time. Once infected, virus can be spread until every spot or blister crusts over. In severe cases when the immune system is low, the rash will cover the entire body including private parts.
Causes and risk factors
Chickenpox can be easily spread from person to person. It can be contracted by coming into contact with the liquid leaking from the blister. An infected person can also spread the disease through sneezing or coughing.
The virus incubates for about 10 to 21 days, after which the pox starts to appear. Most cases of chickenpox happen under the age of 15 and adults and older children typically get sicker than younger children with robust immune systems.
Children whose mothers had chickenpox or were vaccinated tend to get mild chickenpox and children whose mothers never had chickenpox or the vaccination tend to develop severe chickenpox cases.
Diagnosis and tests
Chickenpox is usually diagnosed by examining the blisters or rash by the doctor.
Since chickenpox is caused by a virus, there is no treatment but rest and intake of fluid plus a healthy diet. If the symptoms are severe, the doctors may prescribe medication.