Chicken pox is a relatively common childhood illness that is characterized by small, itchy blisters that may appear in a regionalized part of the body, or all over the skin and throat. During childhood immunizations, chicken pox vaccinations have reduced the number of chicken pox cases during recent years. If a child is immunized for chicken pox that does not mean they will never contract the varicella-zoster virus. Later in life, an adult condition known as shingles may appear. Shingles is simply the adult version of chicken pox.
Who Can Get Chicken Pox?
Chicken pox is not age specific. Though children under the age of 12 are the most common sector of the population to contract the virus, adults may contract shingles which is also related to the varicella-zoster virus.
Chicken pox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Contraction of the virus is most often attributed to contact with the skin of those already infected with it.
The most common symptoms related to chicken pox include:
- Itchy blisters
- Red, itchy rash
- Small bumps
- Blisters filled with clear fluid
- Fever of 100 to 102 degrees
Chicken pox is a virus that will often take care of the healing process on its own. Over the counter treatments for the itching, burning and fever may include:
- Wet compresses
- Cool baths
- Anti-itch creams
- Anti-itch medications (Benadryl)
Homeopathic medicine is one of the best ways to deal with the irritating symptoms. When trying to keep the skin itch free, calamine lotion or tea tree oil may help. Echinacea, taken daily, can help to boost the immune system and reduce the amount of time the chicken pox affects the skin.
When suffering from chicken pox, it is important to avoid salty or acidic foods as they may cause additional irritation of the skin.
When is Medicinal Treatment Necessary?
Chicken pox is not a virus that normally requires medical intervention. But, if there is a fever lasting more than 4 days or reaching more than 102 degrees, a doctor may need to be notified. Other symptoms requiring medical attention may include:
- Trouble breathing
- Severe cough
- Difficulty walking
- Stiff neck
- Severe headache
Medical Treatments for Chicken Pox
Depending on the age of the patient, an injection of chicken pox antibodies may be administered to delay the disease from further progressing. Other treatments prescribed by a doctor would include antiviral medications aimed at reducing the length of the disease or viral infection.
Preventative measures include the varicella-foster vaccination which can be administered to both children and adults who have not been previously vaccinated.