Chicken Pox (Varicella)
How is chicken pox caused and transmitted
Chicken pox is a disease caused by the varicella zoster virus. Unless they have had chicken pox before, anyone can contract the disease, i.e. children, adolescents and adults.
The disease is highly contagious, spreading through the air or by direct contact. The virus attacks the mucous tissues. Consequently, the disease is easily transmitted through droplets of mucous secretions from the respiratory tract while coughing or sneezing. It can also be transmitted to a person who has been in direct contact with a dirty handkerchief or the varicella lesions.
In most people, the incubation period
ranges from 13 to 17 days. A person is most contagious for two days after
the appearance of the rash and continues to be for about five days. Usually,
it is safe for children to go back to school by the sixth day.
What are the symptoms of chicken pox
The typical sign of chicken pox is
an irritating, itchy rash that starts on the trunk and slowly spreads over
the face, including the scalp, mouth and ears, and also the upper arms
and legs. Scabs form over the lesions after four or five days and may stay
for one or two weeks after which they drop off. In addition, children may
also develop fever, chills, nausea and vomiting.
How can this illness be treated
There is no specific treatment for
this disease. However, it is imperative that you stop your child from scratching
the spots. If she scratches the spots, the scabs may come off leaving the
wounds open to infection and scarring. Apply calamine lotion at regular
intervals to alleviate the itching and keep your child's nails short to
minimize the risk of infection.
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