Otherwise known as varicella, chickenpox is a viral infection that results in itchy, blister-like rashes on body. It is a highly contagious disease, especially to people who haven't had the disease before nor been vaccinated against it. It is caused by the exposure to the virus, varicella zoster. The term chickenpox is believed to have been used for the first time in 1658. The disease is found to affect adults more severely than children. The winter and spring seasons are the periods it occurs mostly. The people who had been affected with the disease once and healed are unlikely to get it for a second time.
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The symptoms of chickenpox take from ten to twenty days to manifest themselves. The early symptoms include lack of appetite, nausea and aches. The rashes commonly start to appear on face, and spread to the rest of the body parts. They can be accompanied by other symptoms, including fever. The symptoms normally last from five to ten days. The rashes can be very itchy and painful.
Chickenpox is an airborne disease. It mainly spreads through the coughs and sneezes of an infected person. It can also spread through the contact with the blisters. The disease can be diagnosed by the symptoms but in complicated cases, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of the blister fluids is employed.
Chickenpox rarely turns fatal, and usually dissipates in a few weeks. The rashes may last for a month or more. The major health risk is when the disease leads to more severe ones, like pneumonia, bronchitis and hepatitis. Another problem is the chance of shingles, which is caused by the varicella virus that stays dormant for a very long time in the body of infected person. The pregnant women also have high risk when affected by the disease.
There are not many treatments for chickenpox. The application of calamine lotion is usually recommended for those infected, to help with itching on the blisters. The fever can be regulated by the consumption of paracetamol. The patients are recommended not to scratch on the rashes or wear gloves, to avoid secondary infections. Sometimes, antiviral drugs are also recommended, mostly to avoid the multiplication of the virus.
Chickenpox is found in all parts of the world. Immunization has brought down the number of cases of disease significantly over the years. The varicella vaccination is implemented for children in many countries to prevent the disease.
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