Chickenpox is a form of infection by the varicella virus. Generally, adults do not develop the condition since they had it as a child or received a shot that provides protection against the disease.
However, if a teenager or adult is not immune and acquires the infection, it can become serious than those that form among children. Once an individual had chickenpox, the virus remains in the body for life. The virus might later trigger shingles.
What are the signs?
The usual indications of chickenpox arise within 10-21 days after exposure to the virus. The symptoms typically include:
- Itchy, reddened rash of small-sized blisters filled with fluid that initially manifest on the face, scalp, back or chest
- Feeling tired and irritable
- Body aches
- Mild headache
Remember that chickenpox is highly contagious 1-2 days before the rash manifests. It remains contagious until all the blisters crusted over, usually within 4-7 days.
Management of chickenpox
An antiviral drug might be prescribed by the doctor to shorten the length of the sickness and help lessen the sores that might form. These antiviral medications are highly beneficial if started within the initial 72 hours after the blisters erupt.
Other self-care measures include:
- For itchiness, encourage the individual to take a lukewarm bath every few hours during the initial days. Carefully pat the skin dry and avoid rubbing.
- Calamine lotion can be applied on the sores to lessen the itchiness.
- Apply an ice pack or cool moist towel on the itchy areas for 20-30 minutes.
- In case the itchiness is severe or disrupts with sleeping, an over-the-counter antihistamine can be used.
- The blisters or scabs should not be scratched as they recuperate. The fingernails must be trimmed short and wash hands regularly with warm water and soap.
- In case sores are present in the mouth, eat foods that are soft, cool and bland.
- Pain medications can be given for fever, headache or generalized body aches.