Don't mess with chickenpox!

Don't mess with chickenpox!

Suffering from a sudden rash? A spurt of blisters? Don’t ignore it. It could be a bout of chickenpox.

Chickenpox is a highly-communicable disease caused by the virus varicella zoster. This viral infection can be transmitted from one person to another by air and by direct contact with the skin of an infected person. In pregnant women, the virus can be transmitted from the mother to the foetus. The average incubation period of the chickenpox virus is 14 to 16 days once the person is exposed to the infection.

Not sure it you are suffering from chickenpox? Here are some of the signs and symptoms to watch out for...

 A mild fever that lasts for a day or two.

Rashes and blisters that appear all over the body. The colour of these blisters change with every passing day.

Don’t assume that you are totally safe from chickenpox if you are an adult. This disease affects people of all age groups. A person who has had chickenpox once becomes immune to the disease the second time, unless he or she has low immunity.

Vaccinations for chickenpox are available for all age groups. The single-antigen varicella vaccine is for those who are aged 12 months or above, whereas the combination of measles-Mumps-Rubella-Varicella (MMRV) vaccine is only for children between 1 to 12 years of age. Chickenpox rash can be treated with calamine lotion and aloe vera gel to reduce the itching. Fresh fruits that are rich in vitamin C should be taken to keep the body hydrated. Avoid spicy and oily food.

Since the disease is extremely infectious, it is important to take the following precautions:

Avoid traveling to endemic areas.

Avoid contact with people who are infected.

Schools and colleges should isolate the infected children.

Pregnant women should take the utmost care and avoid coming into contact with infected people, as the disease might affect the foetus.

At home, people should be vaccinated immediately before or after exposure to the disease.                                         

Infected persons should stay away from crowded places, public toilets, public transport facilities, etc.

Don’t get alarmed as soon as you learn that you have contracted chickenpox. The disease is usually cured without many complications. However, some of the complications that occur on rare occasions include secondary bacterial infections of the blisters on the skin, pneumonia, damage to cerebellum, inflammation of brain and brain haemorrhage. Men are more prone to these complications.

Some people prefer traditional remedies, but beware. These are not recommended, as chickenpox is a self-limiting disease, and these treatments may even worsen the condition of patients who have low immunity, diabetes, cardiac and liver diseases.
 (The author is a consultant physician and diabetologist at Fortis Hospital.)
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