May 26, 2017

What are the causes and symptoms of chicken pox?

causes of chicken pox

Chickenpox is a viral disease caused by the virus varicella zoster. It’s a common infectious illness that’s characterised by itchy red rashes, which later, with the progress of the disease, turn into blisters and scabs. These tend to appear all over the body. Once suffered, it is believed that an individual develops a lifetime immunity against chicken pox and may not experience it again. However, in some rare cases, the virus remains dormant in the body, and actives at a later stage if it gets the right conditions to life-up. Furthermore, symptoms of chickenpox are quite prominent and must not be ignored. A test for chicken pox is imperative.

Who is more prone to Chicken Pox?

Chicken pox is known as a childhood disease and hence, is most common amid children. It’s usually mild in nature, but there’s a risk of a child suffering from serious complications, such as bacterial pneumonia, if the ailment is not treated properly and on-time.

The situation amid infants and adults is opposite. It’s more painful and daunting. Chickenpox is usually curable in nature and, as defined above, offers the body a lifetime immunity against its own virus – varicella zoster, it can, however, become chronic and prove fatal in case of pregnant women, new born babies and other individuals with a weak immune system. In the case of a pregnant woman, the risk of developing pneumonia is high. Furthermore, the risk of the mother passing the virus to her unborn baby is also quite high.

Chicken Pox Symptoms

It is only after 7-21 days of being infected that the virus of chicken pox that its symptoms start to appear. During the initial stage a patient may feel feverish, tired, nauseous or lose his/her appetite. But, at a later stage major chicken pox symptoms start to propel. About two days post exposure to the above mentioned symptoms, the rashes typically begin to develop. They go through three different phases before the body recovers from the disease. These phases are as follows:-

  • When red or pink bumps start to appear all over the body,
  • When these bumps full of fluid begin to leak, and
  • And when the bumps which scab commence to heal.

It’s quite vital to note that not all chickenpox bumps go through these three above-defined phases at the same time. Many new bumps start to appear when many old ones scab down. An infected person must steer away from others until all the rash bumps disappear.

Also, physicians all across the nation advice that as soon as an individual witnesses early signs of chicken pox symptoms, he/she must get a test for chickenpox done right away so as to confirm or deny the disease and further, get treated to avoid fatal consequences. Most doctors recommend ‘Varicella Titer Test’ to determine whether the body has previously been exposed to the virus or not, and thereby, to check the body’s immunity to the disease.

What are the common Chicken Pox Causes?

As mentioned above, chicken pox is a viral infection that’s caused by viruses of varicella zoster –extremely contagious in nature. Usually people who have already had the disease once in their lifetime become immune to it forever. It is those who either have not been infected before or those with a low immunity level, are likely to suffer from the disease by coming in contact with an infected person (child or adult).

Chicken pox symptoms, just like common cold and flu, spread both, through direct contact and airborne particles from an infected person. Major sources of its transmission are as follows:-

  • Directly coming in contact with chicken pox blisters or the fluid they contain, as they contain the virus particles which can be easily acquired.
  • Making a face-to-face conversation with a chicken pox patient. The virus can enter a healthy person’s body through the saliva spilled while conversing or if in case the infected individual coughs or sneezes during that time.
  • Being in the same room as that of the patient for a long time also increase the chances of transmission of the viral infection.
  • Coming into contact with the infected person’s clothes or bed linen also cause the transmission.

A healthy person should avoid coming in contact with an infected person until he/she heals completely.

Chicken Pox Prevention

Chicken pox infection lasts for 7-21 days and (usually) resolves without any artificial cure or treatment. However, it is best to prevent the onset of the ailment in the first place.

  • Get yourself vaccinated against the infection. Children must be given a chicken pox vaccine twice – within a gap of nine to twelve months.
  • Maintain distances with the infected person until he/she has recovered completely. Avoid coming in contact with their clothes, food, sleeping in the same bed, or even talking while standing too close to them.
  • Get tested against chickenpox as soon as the symptoms start to surface.
  • Seek advice on how to mitigate the effects of chickenpox.

Chicken Pox Treatment

Although there is no medical treatment or cure for chicken pox symptoms per se, a doctor may advise the patient on how to reduce the effect or tackle with the itchiness along with suggesting ways to make the infection less contagious, to prevent it from spreading to other individuals.

  • Keeping oneself hydrated is of utmost importance. It is always advisable for the patient to consume a lot of fluids, mostly water, to prevent dehydration. In case of children who do not drink enough water, give them sugar-free popsicles or liquid syrups as these help combat dehydration.
  • In case of high fever or (and) pain, the patient may take any paracetamol tablet. However, aspirin in not advised. Products or medicines containing aspirin must not be used during chickenpox because of the increased risk of further complications on their use.
  • Soreness in the mouth in case spots and blisters develop inside the mouth, can be eased with sugar-free popsicles. Further, the patient must avoid consuming food items that are spicy or salty, and choose to consume soups at a normal temperature instead of food items that need to be chewed.
  • Although the spots and blisters become too itchy and increasing difficult to keep oneself away from scratching down, it is important to do so in order to prevent the development of scars in the skin. In the case of children, parents must trim their nails and keep their hands clean. Wearing loose clothing would also help to keep the pain and itchiness low.

Antiviral medicines are also available, which could be prescribed to pregnant females, new born babies and adults with weakened immune systems. However, the medication would be most effective if used within 24 hours of the development of symptoms.

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