Chicken Pox

Symptoms and treatment of chicken pox

Chicken pox is a contagious viral disease which is commonly contracted during childhood. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), which is an airborne virus that is spread the same way as the common cold. Direct contact with the rash of a person suffering an acute case of chicken pox can also transmit the virus. Typically, the virus can be contracted via contact with the rash for the first four to five days after the rash first appears.

 

Even after chicken pox goes away, the varicella zoster virus remains in the body permanently, though it becomes inactive. Later on, however, it can reactivate, causing a related condition known as shingles, which can be more complicated to treat.

Symptoms of Chicken Pox

The first symptoms of chicken pox are muscle pain, ear pain (in both ears), headache, a feeling of pressure in the head and face, nausea and fever. Then, lesions and rashes will appear on the body, primarily limited to the torso, but also on the arms and legs.

Treating Chicken Pox

It is important to seek prompt medical attention if your child shows signs of chicken pox, as an antiviral medication known as acyclovir can be administered which can reduce the duration of the illness. It is also important to clip your child's nails so they're as short as they can possibly be, as this will prevent them from scratching the itchy skin rashes too deeply and causing further injury or scarring.

Dehydration can be a problem, especially when a fever is present, so be sure to give your child plenty of water, or use a pediatric electrolyte formula available at your local pharmacy. Antihistamines and over-the-counter pain medications, particularly ibuprofen, can also reduce pain and help your child get the sleep he or she needs to get well.

Children under the age of 16 should not be given aspirin, as it carries the risk Reye's syndrome, a potentially fatal condition. You should not treat your child's chicken pox symptoms without consulting a doctor, and keep in mind the fact that the older your child is, the more likely he or she is to develop complications. Antiviral drugs are usually given to adolescents who get chicken pox to reduce the possibility of severe complications.

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