Chickenpox is a very common and highly contagious disease that is often called one of the classic children's diseases, because so many people contract it during their childhood.
Rare but serious complications can be caused by the disease that require immediate medical attention. The best method for avoiding chickenpox is to receive a chickenpox immunization.
The most common chickenpox symptoms are fever, headache, stomach ache, and loss of appetite, followed by an itchy rash of blisters, generally lasting for 2 to 4 days.
The cause of chicken pox is the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Another name for this virus is human herpes virus 3 (HHV-3), a member of the herpes family that causes herpes zoster, also known as shingles, in adults. Chickenpox is highly contagious, and the chickenpox virus can be transmitted by numerous methods including airborne transmission, direct contact, and droplet transmission.
Some children who have received the varicella vaccination may develop a slight case of chickenpox as subsequent to the vaccination. However, these children usually contract much milder symptoms, develop only a few dozen chickenpox blisters, and recover far more rapidly than unvaccinated chickenpox sufferers. However, these mild, post-vaccination cases of chickenpox are still highly contagious. In a person is infected with chickenpox, the symptoms and blisters usually manifest between 10 and 21 days following exposure. However, people are contagious 1 to 2 days before the rash and blisters emerge and remain contagious while any un-crusted blisters are present.
After you have contracted chickenpox, the virus normally remains in your body for your lifetime, being kept under control by your immune system. Approximately 10% of adults may contract shingles which is also caused by the chickenpox virus. This happens when the varicella virus overcomes the immune system and becomes active during periods of stress. This particularly affects older people, later in life.
The most common chickenpox sufferers are children under 10 years old. In these children, the disease is usually presents mild symptoms, however, in very rare case, serious complications can develop. Adults and older children usually develop more severe cases of chickenpox. Due to the immunity they receive from their mothers, children under one year of age, whose mothers have previously had chickenpox or have previously received the chickenpox vaccination, are unlikely to contract the disease.
If they do contract chickenpox, it is normally a very mild case. However, for children under one year of age whose mothers have not had chickenpox or have not been vaccinated for chickenpox, or whose inborn immunity has already waned, a severe case of the chickenpox can develop.
Normally, children will develop 250-500 blisters during the course of the chickenpox, however, children afflicted with additional skin problems, such as eczema or recent sunburn, may get more than 1,500 chickenpox blisters.
Rare but serious and severe complications are more common in those with weakened or compromised immune systems from things such as medicines, disease, or treatments like chemotherapy. Some of the most severe cases of chickenpox have been observed in children who have been administered steroids, such as in the treatment of asthma, prior to developing symptoms, during the disease's incubation period.
Also see our articles Chickenpox - an overview and Chickenpox Diagnosis And Treatment
David Davis writes for several popular Internet magazines, on get healthy.
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