Doctor's Notes on Chickenpox
Chickenpox is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Before vaccination against chickenpox became routine, it was a very common disease of childhood. After a VZV infection, the virus becomes become dormant and can reactivate later to cause disease. With VZV, reactivation of the disease produces the condition in adults known as shingles or herpes zoster. Shingles outbreaks typically occur when there is a weakened immune system.
Signs and symptoms of chickenpox include fever and red spots on the skin that spots rapidly develop into blisters. The rash usually starts on the head or trunk and spreads to the arms and legs. The blisters may spread to mucous membranes and produce ulcers inside the eyelids, mouth, throat, and genital area. Another associated symptom is intense itching of the rash.
What Are the Treatments for Chickenpox?
Treatments of chickenpox usually center on reducing or stopping symptoms:
- Itchiness reduction: Apply cool wet compresses or take baths in lukewarm water several times a day.
- Calamine lotion: Apply to itchy areas and avoid the face.
- Pain control: Do not use aspirin in children less than 18 years of age.
- Take antihistamines.
- Antivirals: acyclovir and others for high-risk patients
- Get the vaccine within 3-5 days after exposure to the virus.
- Patients with severe infections usually need hospitalization.
Chickenpox : Test Your Medical IQ QuizQuestion
The varicella zoster virus that causes chickenpox is a herpes virus.See Answer
Must Read Articles:
Childhood Immunization Schedule and ChartVaccinations are some of the most important tools available for preventing disease. Most children get all their shots during childhood. Parents should consult their doctors about which vaccines their children should have and when. Keep track of your children's immunizations yourself.
Fever in ChildrenFever is defined as a rectal temperature over 100.4 F or 38 C. Fever isn't life-threatening unless it is persistently high - greater than a 107 F rectal temperature. Fever is usually caused by an infection. Treatment focuses on controlling the temperature, preventing dehydration, and monitoring for serious illness.
Immunization Schedule, AdultsAt least 45,000 adults in the United States die of complications of influenza, pneumococcal infections, and hepatitis B each year. Adults need the following vaccines: chickenpox, hepatitis B, MMR, Td/Tdap, flu, shingles, and pneumococcal.
ShinglesShingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Initially, the virus causes chickenpox. The virus remains dormant in the body until the virus is reactivated by a trigger such as stress, fatigue, cancer, radiation treatments, injury, HIV/AIDS, or a weakened immune system. Symptoms include pain in a broad band on one side of the body, fever, chills, headache, itching, and a red, raised rash. Treatment may incorporate pain medication, applying cool compresses, and avoiding skin-to-skin contact with others.
Skin Rashes in ChildrenSkin rashes in children may be categorized as bacterial, viral, life-threatening, fungal, and parasitic rashes. Oftentimes, the associated symptoms help establish the diagnosis. Treatment depends upon the type of rash and the severity of the signs and symptoms.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.