Chickenpox

Chickenpox is an infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes a very itchy rash with fluid-filled blisters often seen on the chest, back, and face. Chickenpox is generally mild especially in healthy individuals, however it can cause severe symptoms in children and those who have  weakened immune systems.

Last Updated: February 25, 2024

Chickenpox can be passed from one person to another by: 

  • Direct contact with blisters, saliva, or mucus of an infected person
  • Airborne transmission (cough or sneezes of an infected person)
  • Indirect contact by touching objects or clothing that have been used by someone with chickenpox

Chickenpox symptoms may present 10 to 21 days after getting exposed to someone with the disease. Common signs and symptoms of chickenpox include: 

  • An itchy rash with fluid-filled blisters
  • Fever
  • Fatigue 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache

 

Those with chickenpox typically recover after a week. However, the varicella-zoster virus still remains. Reactivation of this virus would result in shingles. Shingles is a disease that can also cause painful fluid-filled blisters.

A doctor will inspect the rash to check if it is characteristic of chickenpox. Laboratory tests, such as blood tests or a culture of the skin lesions, may also be done to confirm if the patient has the disease. 

 

Generally, chickenpox symptoms are mild and, for healthy people, can be managed by getting adequate fluids and bed rest. An antihistamine can also be prescribed to relieve itching. However, for those who are experiencing severe symptoms, especially the young, pregnant, and the immunocompromised, they may be prescribed Acyclovir, which is an antiviral medication. Those with fever from chickenpox should also not use aspirin or any aspirin-containing products as it might cause damage to the liver and brain.

Here are a few tips that might help limit the spread of chickenpox:

  • Practice social distancing towards those diagnosed with chickenpox
  • Avoid touching objects or clothing that have been used by someone with chickenpox
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water
  • Trim fingernails and avoid scratching your skin 
  • Get vaccinated with the chickenpox vaccine

 

REFERENCES: 

Chickenpox. (2021). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chickenpox/symptoms-causes/syc-20351282 

About Chickenpox.(2021). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/about/index.html 

Chickenpox (Varicella zoster infection). (n.d.). New York State Department of Health. Retrieved from https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/chickenpox/fact_sheet.htm#:~:text=How%20is%20chickenpox%20spread%3F,air%20by%20coughing%20and%20sneezing.

Last Updated: February 25, 2024