Chickenpox (varicella) is a very common acute infectious disease in children. When a child contracts chickenpox, he or she will develop itching body rashes which can be very annoying. In addition to its extremely contagious nature, chickenpox has to be managed carefully because it may cause scarring on skin and even severe complications including pneumonia and secondary bacterial infection. Thus, parents should be cautious about how to look after your affected children.
Rashes, initially in the form of red spots, appear on torso of the patient. They further spread to limbs, face and even inside mouth, and will gradually become small vesicles in clusters. These vesicles will usually dry up in around 5-10 days.
Children who have recovered from chickenpox usually gain immunity for life, but the virus may remain and become latent inside the nerves. When the patient’s immunity is weakened, latent virus can be reactivated and trigger symptoms of herpes zoster (commonly known as the “snake infection”), leading to the development of painful blisters in the affected areas of nerve innervation.
Chickenpox is caused by varicella zoster virus. It is considered highly contagious that can spread easily through droplets, aerosols (air-borne), and skin. Contact with the discharges of chickenpox on the patient’s clothes and contact items can also cause indirect infection. An affected child is considered contagious until all the vesicles have dried up.
To prevent ugly scars from forming, parents should learn how to avoid children from scratching the itchy areas excessively. Children are encouraged to wear gloves and having their fingernails trimmed. Showering or bathing with warm water help alleviate skin itchiness. From a doctor’s perspective, if the itch is intolerable, antipruritic medications can be prescribed.
Prevention is the best cure. Chickenpox vaccine has been available for decades, which can effectively reduce risk of chickenpox infection and its complications. Parents can consult paediatricians for further information and thendecide if their children should take the vaccine.