Chickenpox: Causes, description, Treatment

Skin | General Practice | Chickenpox (Disease)

Chickenpox: Description

Chickenpox is a highly contagious illness caused by primary infection with varicella zoster virus (VZV). Chickenpox is a viral infection in which a person develops extremely itchy blisters all over the body. It used to be one of the classic childhood diseases. However, it has become much less common since the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine.

Chickenpox is often characterized by symptoms including myalgia, itching, nausea, fever, headache, sore throat, diarrhea, pain in both ears, complaints of pressure in head or swollen face, and malaise. In children, the first symptom is usually the development of a vesicular rash.

Causes and Risk factors

Chickenpox is highly contagious, and it can spread quickly. The virus is transmitted by direct contact with the rash or by droplets dispersed into the air by coughing or sneezing.

Risk of catching chickenpox is higher if someone: havent had chickenpox, havent been vaccinated for chickenpox, work in or attend a school or child care facility and live with children.

A common complication of chickenpox is a bacterial infection of the skin. Chickenpox may also lead to Pneumonia or, rarely, an inflammation of the brain called Encephalitis.

Chickenpox: Treatment and Diagnosis

Diagnosis is usually confirmed by the small blisters on the scalp. Laboratory tests can help confirm the diagnosis, if needed.

Varicella treatment mainly consists of easing the symptoms as there is no actual cure of the condition. Some treatments are however available for relieving the symptoms while the immune system clears the virus from the body. As a protective measure, patients are usually required to stay at home while they are infectious to avoid spreading the disease to others

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