Chicken pox can not only affect children but also adults. This disorder can be prevented with the help of immunization. Let us take a look at the causes and symptoms of chicken pox and treatment options for this disorder.
Chicken pox is a contagious disease that can spread among children as well as adults easily. Although, this disease is contagious, children and adults who are immunized or who have coped with this illness before may not easily get affected with it. If at all such individuals get affected with this disorder, the symptoms will be less severe.
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.
What are the risks associated with chicken pox?
Although, chicken pox is not a very serious disease it can give rise to complications in people who have weak immune system. Below mentioned are some of the complications that can arise which may also require hospitalization of the patient.
- Bacterial infections affecting skin (sepsis), joints, bones, soft tissues or bloodstream
- Reye’s syndrome that can be caused due to intake of aspirin while coping with chicken pox.
- Brain inflammation (encephalitis)
- Toxic shock syndrome
Very rarely chicken pox can give rise to complications like death. In case if a pregnant woman gets affected with chicken pox when she is less than 20 weeks pregnant, there are chances that the foetus may be born with birth defects. If the pregnant woman gets affected with chicken pox during the last phase of her pregnancy, she may pass on the infection directly to the baby and he or she may take birth with chicken pox. So, it is necessary to talk to a doctor if one gets affected with chicken pox during pregnancy.
What are the ways to prevent chicken pox in children?
One of the best ways to prevent chicken pox in children is to get them vaccinated. Children must be vaccinated against chicken pox as per the schedule prescribe by a paediatrician. As per the schedule prescribe by Indian Academy of Paediatrics
(IAP), children are vaccinated against chicken pox when they are between 15 to 18 months of their age. The second dose is given when they are 4 to 6 years old.
It is necessary to vaccinate children to protect them from illnesses like chicken pox. If you think that you have missed the chicken pox vaccination
for your child, you must talk to his or her paediatrician and get it rescheduled as soon as possible.