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VARICELLA (CHICKENPOX ) : Things you need to know

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The varicella-zoster virus is responsible for chickenpox. It generates a rash with small, fluid-filled blisters that is irritating. People who have never had chickenpox or who have not been vaccinated against it are highly contagious. Children can now be protected against chickenpox with the use of a vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States recommends routine vaccination (CDC).

Symptoms:

Chickenpox infection causes an itchy blister rash that emerges 10 to 21 days after exposure to the virus and lasts about five to ten days. The following signs and symptoms may emerge one to two days before the rash:

-Fever
-Irritable bowel syndrome
-Headache
-Exhaustion

The chickenpox rash goes through three stages after it appears:

-Papules (raised pink or red pimples) that appear over several days
-Small fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) that form in a day or two and then burst and leak.
-Crusts and scabs that form over burst blisters and take many days to heal
-Because new bumps form every few days, you may experience all three stages of the rash at the same time: bumps, blisters, and scabbed sores. Before the rash forms, you can spread the virus to other people for up to 48 hours, and the virus stays contagious until all broken blisters have crusted over.

In healthy youngsters, the condition is usually minor. The rash can cover the entire body in extreme cases, with lesions forming in the mouth, eyes, and mucous membranes of the urethra, anus, and vagina.

When should you see a doctor?

Consult your doctor if you suspect you or your kid has chickenpox. He or she can typically identify chickenpox by looking at the rash and taking into account other symptoms. If required, your doctor can give drugs to reduce the severity of chickenpox and manage complications. To avoid infecting others in the waiting area, call early for an appointment and mention that you or your child may have chickenpox.

Also, tell your doctor if:

-The rash appears to have expanded to one or both eyes.
-The rash becomes extremely red, heated, and sensitive. This could be a sign of a secondary bacterial infection on the skin.
-The rash is accompanied by dizziness, disorientation, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, tremors, lack of muscular coordination, increasing cough, vomiting, stiff neck, or a temperature of over 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 C).
-Anyone in the home who has an immune system problem or is under the age of six months.

Causes:

The varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox infection. Direct touch with the rash can cause it to spread. When a person with chickenpox coughs or sneezes and you inhale the air droplets, it can spread.

Risk factors:

If you haven’t had chickenpox or haven’t had the chickenpox vaccine, your chances of getting infected with the varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox are increased. Vaccination is especially crucial for persons who work in child care or in schools.

Chickenpox immunity is common in those who have had chickenpox or who have been vaccinated against it. Chickenpox can be contracted more than once by a few people, but this is uncommon. If you’ve been vaccinated and still acquire chickenpox, your symptoms will usually be milder, with fewer blisters and a low to no fever.

Complications:

Chickenpox is usually a minor illness. However, it can be dangerous and lead to issues such as:

-Infections of the skin, soft tissues, bones, joints, or bloodstream caused by bacteria (sepsis)
-Dehydration
-Pneumonia
-Brain inflammation (encephalitis)
-Toxic shock syndrome (TSS)
-Reye’s syndrome in children and teenagers who take aspirin during chickenpox
-Death

Who is at risk?

People who are more likely to develop problems from chickenpox include:

-Infants and newborns whose moms have never had chickenpox or received the vaccine
-Adults and adolescents
-Women who are pregnant and have never had chickenpox
-Smokers
-People whose immune systems have been weakened by drugs like chemotherapy or diseases like cancer or HIV.
-People on steroid drugs for another disease or condition, such as asthma.

Prevention:

The best approach to avoid chickenpox (varicella) is to get vaccinated. According to the CDC, roughly 98 percent of persons who take both of the required doses of the vaccine are completely protected against the virus. When the vaccine does not provide complete protection, the severity of chickenpox is greatly reduced.

The chickenpox vaccine (Varivax) is suggested for the following conditions:

-Children of a certain age. In the United States, children receive two doses of the varicella vaccine as part of their standard childhood vaccination regimen, the first between the ages of 12 and 15 months and the second between the ages of 4 and 6 years.

Although the vaccine can be taken with the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, the combination may raise the risk of fever and seizures in some children aged 12 to 23 months. With your child’s doctor, discuss the benefits and drawbacks of combining the immunizations.

-Adults who have not been vaccinated. Children aged 7 to 12 years who have not been vaccinated should receive two varicella vaccine doses at least three months apart. Children aged 13 and up who have not been vaccinated should receive two more doses of the vaccine at least four weeks apart.

-Adults who have never had chickenpox and are unvaccinated are at significant risk of infection. Health-care workers, teachers, child-care workers, overseas travelers, military people, adults who live with young children, and all women of childbearing age fall into this category.

-Adults who have never had chickenpox or been vaccinated are given two doses of the vaccine four to eight weeks apart. A blood test can assess your immunity if you don’t remember whether you had chickenpox or the vaccine.

The chickenpox vaccine is not recommended for the following conditions:

-Women who are pregnant
-Patients with weaker immune systems, such as HIV-positive people or those who are using immune-suppressing medicines
-Anaphylaxis to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin

If you’re not sure if you need the vaccine, talk to your doctor. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, check with your doctor to make sure you’re up to date on your immunizations before you start trying to conceive.

Is it both safe and efficient?

Vaccines are frequently questioned by parents as to their safety. Studies have regularly confirmed the chickenpox vaccine to be safe and effective since its introduction. Redness, pain, swelling, and, in rare cases, tiny lumps at the injection site are all common side effects.

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