By Dr. Ashok Grover, General Physician
The viral infection characterized by the formation of rashes that itch with small blisters filled with fluid, is called Chickenpox. It is quite contagious and easily infects people who have not been infected before, or have not been immunized against chickenpox. Before regular immunizations against chicken pox had started, it was a disease which infected every human being at some point in their life, sometimes, with bitter consequences. As a result of regular vaccinations, this is no longer the case.
Some of the major symptoms of chickenpox are:
1. The telltale symptom of chickenpox is always the appearance of the rashes.
2. Accompanying symptoms can be severe headache, persistent tiredness and fever.
If you are not sure about the rashes, then you can check whether they correspond to any of the phases, the rashes usually go through in case of chickenpox:
1) Raised, reddish or slightly pink bumps which surface over the skin for the first few days.
2) Formation of blisters which are fluid-filled after a few weeks.
3)The blisters break and scabs cover the broken blisters and take a few days to heal.
Complications of chickenpox in adults:
Chickenpox is generally a mild, but uncomfortable, disease which can lead to severe complications, hospitalization and even death. Some complications include:
- Bacterial infections of the skin, soft tissues, and/or bones
- Sepsis, or a bacterial infection of the bloodstream
- Bleeding issues
- Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain
- Toxic shock syndrome
1) For children and other cases where the condition is not severe, doctors allow the disease to run its course. Usually, no treatment is required except histamine to alleviate the itching.
2) If the conditions appear to be severe, then the doctor might prescribe antiviral drugs such as either acyclovir, valacyclovir or another drug like immune globulin intravenous. These function best when administered 24 hours after the infection.
3) Aspirin should never be added to the medications because this might result in a complication called Reye’s syndrome.
4) Chickenpox vaccine is important to ensure prevention of the disease.