Know your symptoms: Chickenpox

Know your symptoms: Chickenpox

Whether you’ve had them in childhood or adulthood, chickenpox can be a very uncomfortable and distressing experience.

Experts at House Call Doctor say the chickenpox is a high contagious infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Usually the main symptom is an itchy, blistering skin rash.

Thankfully there is now a vaccine against chickenpox, but if you come down with the condition, it’s best you stay at home rather than going to school or work. You should tell your supervisors if you have the chickenpox, as other people may need to be treated or immunised.

The symptoms of chickenpox include:

  • Fever
  • Discomfort or a lack of wellbeing
  • Itchy skin rash
  • Ulcers in areas including mouth and vagina.

Chickenpox is a usually mild condition and a person can recover without any major treatment, although it appears more severe in adults than in children. Complications can arise in about one per cent of chickenpox cases.

Some of the complications can include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Scarring
  • Cellulitis
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Encephalitis

Women can suffer from serious complications from chickenpox during pregnancy.

In Australia, nearly 9 out of 10 pregnant women are immune to chickenpox. However, if the mother isn’t immune and is infected within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, there is a risk of contracting congenital varicella syndrome.

Varicella syndrome can cause complications for the unborn or newborn baby including:

  • Shingles
  • Scarring of the skin
  • Eye defects
  • Neurological abnormalities
  • Chickenpox in the newborn.

Chickenpox can spread quickly like wildfire. It only takes one infected person coughing or sneezing on another or touching the fluid from the blisters to contract the virus.

People are infectious for around one to two days before the rash and then remain contagious until the blisters form scabs. This is usually around day five of the infection.

Prevention and treatment

Even though chickenpox is a viral disease, it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Immunisation is known to be the best way to prevent chickenpox.

The treatment of chickenpox mainly aims to relieve your symptoms. Bed rest, drinking fluids and taking paracetamol are all great ways to bring down fever.

Lukewarm baths, creams, calamine lotion and wearing mittens can help to prevent scratching and improve discomfort from the rash and blisters.

 

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