Chicken pox is a highly contagious infection caused by the varicella zoster virus. It is a common infection among children. The disease spreads quickly, especially in schools and kindergarten. In most cases, having the chicken pox makes a person immune to the disease for the rest of their lives.
Symptoms of chicken pox
About a day before the rash appears, children are likely to exhibit the following symptoms – headaches, fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Afterwards, a rash or a small blister will appear. It will initially look like small, flat, red dots on the skin. A few hours later, they will be larger and become itchy. The rash usually appears all over the body, but there are cases where the hands, feet and head are unaffected. The rash usually lasts between 4 – 7 days. On the 5th day, new rashes stop appearing and on the 6th day the sores are scabbing over. The scabs usually disappear within 20 days.
In certain cases, there may be complications, such as a secondary infection of the rashes, pneumonia, encephalitis, strep A and more. In these cases, you should have your child hospitalized immediately. Adults usually experience a more severe form of the disease.
The disease is highly contagious – and remains contagious until the last rash scabs over. Only afterwards may your child return to school or preschool. Pregnant women should be extremely careful, as the fetus may get infected. Keep your child away from pregnant women, small children and babies, people taking steroids, cancer patients or AIDS patients. If your child is exposed to someone from these high-risk groups, notify them immediately.
DO NOT GIVE YOUR CHILD ASPIRIN
Most of the treatments available are symptomatic: medication to lower the fever or creams to stop the itchiness. In cases of complications, your child will most likely be given an antiviral treatment.
Make sure your child remains hydrated. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, when you come in contact. Cut your child’s nails to lessen the chance of spreading infections while scratching. However, it is best to avoid scratching all together. If your child exhibits new symptoms or changes in behavior, see your doctor.
If your child is hospitalized while sick with the chicken pox, he will be put in an insolation room, in order to prevent the spread of the infection. Additionally, many children hospitalized are in one of the high-risk groups.