What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a disease caused by the virus varicella-zoster. It is highly contagious and is characterized by blisters and itchy rashes all over the body. Chicken pox can be easily prevented by vaccination. A few years back, chickenpox was thought to be a common harmless childhood disease that just happens and all you can do is relieve the symptoms. Things have changed a lot since then and vaccinations are now available.

Symptoms

Chicken pox is quite infamous for the itching. The incessant itching is a prime culprit that helps spread the Chickenpox to others. When the pus from the itchy blisters come into contact with a normal healthy person (who has never has Chicken pox in his/her lifetime) they become infected as well. Other symptoms associated are as follows:

  • Itchy red rash
  • Fluid filled blisters
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Mode of transmission
  • It can spread from mother to baby via pregnancy, labor or even breastfeeding.
  • It can also be spread via coughing or sneezing droplets.
  • Chickenpox is also spread via skin to skin contact.
  • Body fluids are also responsible for the transmission of Chickenpox.
  • Any contaminated surface like a towel, blanket, table surfaces or even a door knob can be responsible for the transmission of the virus.

Chickenpox Vaccination

Vaccination can completely prevent chickenpox. Shingles is a disease that can also be prevented by taking up the Chickenpox vaccination. Shingles only affects a person who is infected by Chickenpox. Thus by preventing Chickenpox with vaccines, one can easily avoid the complications caused by Shingles.

Vaccination dosage

Both adults and children, require two doses of the vaccine to be completely immune.

First dose: 12 - 15 months

Second dose: 4 - 6 years

If a newborn baby's mother has ever had chickenpox, or the chickenpox vaccine, then the baby is protected by antibodies present in the mothers body. This immunity can last for several months. But it is pertinent that you get your baby vaccinated, especially if the baby is high-risk or immunocompromised.

Treatment of Chickenpox

Chickenpox can be prevented by a vaccine. But, what do you do if you or someone you know contracts Chickenpox? Treatment usually involves providing relief to the symptoms. However anti-viral vaccinations are available for high risk immunocompromised individuals.

  • It is important to staying off work or school until the last blister has dried and crusted over. This would ensure that you have passed the contagious stage.
  • Paracetamol can be used to lower fever.
  • Don't use any anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, as they can sometimes make people with chickenpox very ill.
  • Trim the nails and file them to avoid making the itchy rashes worse.
  • Tap or pat the skin instead of scratching it to ease the itch.
  • Applying calamine lotion can help cool the skin and reduce the itchiness or the burning sensation.
  • Wearing gloves or mittens can also help with tackling the urge to itch.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing.
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • There could be sores or blisters in the mouth. Avoid food that are sharp edged, difficult to chew, salty or spicy foods.

 

Chickenpox vaccination research findings

 

  • When the varicella zoster virus (VZV) remains domant in the body after you have once had Chickenpox, it can return back with a vengeance as shingles. The VZV gets reactivated when the immune system is compromised. Once the virus remains dormant in the nervous system,it lies there awaiting a signal that could cause this sleeping virus to be re-activated. Shingles is also known as herpes zoster.

 

  • In one-third of people over 50 years opf age, or in those with weakened immune systems, VZV re-activation triggers the localized rash, itchiness and pain of shingles. The latest research done at Hannover Medical School, Germany suggests that VZV has a protein that enhances its ability to hijack the white blood cells. They can easily spread throughout the body in this manner.

 

  • In rare cases, varicella-zoster virus can cause strokes in children and adults with compromised immune systems. This was particularly seen in high risk individuals like those affected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Such people can experience bleeding in the brain that could cause a type of stroke called intracerebral hemorrhage.

 

  • A research conducted by American College of Cardiology revealed that people who get shingles are at a greater risk of getting a stroke or heart attack. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime. Such a shocking revelation. Shingles has been found to raise the risk of a cardiovascular risks like heart attack and stroke by 41 percent. Individually, the risk of stroke was increased by 35 percent and the risk of heart attack was increased by 59 percent.

 

  • Another recent finding by the University of Missouri is that Chickenpox vaccine may cause, corneal inflammation. So it must be used cautiously with patients who have a history of eye inflammation.