Your child may have not been feeling well for a couple of days, being feverish, having a runny nose and some mild cough. Then one morning you get up, see a blistery rash and you realize your child has contracted chickenpox.
Chickenpox is a common and extremely contagious airborne virus (varicella zoster, member of the herpes virus family) usually contracted in childhood. It spreads through the air by coughing or sneezing or by touching an infected child. More than 90% of chickenpox cases occur in children less than 12 years of age. After an infection a person will be immune against chickenpox for a lifetime.
Once a person has been in contact with the virus it takes about 2 weeks before symptoms appear. Chickenpox starts with a mild fever and is characterized by an itchy, blistery rash that forms over the entire body and starts to crust over within a few days until they fall off. Most likely, the first rashes and blisters appear on the chest and face and then spread over the entire body. In some cases blisters may even occur in the ears, the mouth and on the eyelids. Chickenpox blisters show up in waves. While first blisters begin to crust, new spots might appear. While the symptoms last for only a number of days, it takes about 10-14 days until all blisters have crusted over and your child is no longer contagious. The constant scratching of blisters can leave life-long scars which can be caused if scratched wounds become infected with bacteria.
Generally speaking, a case of chickenpox passes without complications and as uncomfortable the itch may be, it is a common illness for children and most get better by lots of rest and seeing it through (like a cold or flu).
In adults chickenpox is normally more severe and may accompany pneumonia. It is advised to consult your practitioner should you as an adult think you have contracted chickenpox.
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