First Signs of Chickenpox

Chickenpox used to be a quite common disease, especially among young children. It is caused by one of the herpes viruses and is extremely contagious. The first signs of chickenpox are typically a rash all over the body, a fever and other flu-like symptoms. Those who have it usually recover quickly, but some wind up with pneumonia or other complications. Lifetime immunity follows, but the virus remains in the body and might emerge later as shingles.                            

What Are the First Signs of Chickenpox?

They come on rather quickly and are easy to spot:

  • A spotty rash that looks like little blisters
  • Flu-like symptoms, including aching muscles, headache and generally feeling sick
  • A temperature of over 100.4°F (38°C)
  • Loss of appetite

These symptoms tend to be worse the older you are. For instance, adults tend to have worse symptoms than children, and the elderly can be severely affected.

Chickenpox Spots

The first signs of chickenpox include the classic ‘spots’ that appear on the skin in cluster. They can be anywhere, including behind the ears, all over the scalp, and on the face, chest, arms, legs and torso. These spots can even show up inside the ears and the mouth. They usually begin as itchy red spots but over time they become even worse. They will itch terribly and eventually develop a blister on top. After a few days, the fluid in the blisters changes to a cloudy color, then begins to dry out and crust over. The crusty spots will last for about a week before they begin to fall off.

The spots don’t simply appear and then go away; they come in waves every three to five days. This means that the spots are often in different phases of healing.

Those who have already been vaccinated against chickenpox will still show the first signs of chickenpox. However, they will be much milder, with almost no blister and possibly even no fever. Only about 25% of those who have been vaccinated will get chickenpox that is severe.

What Are the Complications of Chickenpox?

Though chickenpox is a relatively mild condition for most people, some possible complications might result, especially among those who are at high risk. Potential diseases include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Brain inflammation
  • Toxic shock syndrome
  • Bacterial infections (because of the many lesions on the skin)
  • Reye’s syndrome (only common among those who take aspirin)

Who Is at Risk for Chickenpox?

The risk of chickenpox is much higher for some individuals than others. Here’s who needs to be alert for those first signs of chickenpox:

Babies

Babies can easily get chickenpox by simply being in the same room with someone who has the virus. Remember that those who have shingles can also give chickenpox to a young child. Keep babies away from anyone who might be infected.

Adults

Adults who have chickenpox are likely to have more severe symptoms that might last longer than it would in children. It is very easy for an adult to catch chickenpox from a child. Also remember that shingles is a form of the same virus that many adults carry in their body. It might appear when your immune system is weak, and cause symptoms that can be even worse than that of chickenpox.

Pregnant Women

Chickenpox can be very serious for a pregnant woman, as it can lead to abnormalitiesof the unborn baby. These diseases can be even worse if the virus is contracted between the 8th and 20th week of pregnancy, or between the 5th days before delivery. Those who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine need to be extremely careful about being around those who might have been infected.

Immune-Compromised People

Those who are suffering from conditions that compromise their immune system, such as those who have HIV, leukemia and cancers, are undergoing chemotherapy or have had an organ transplant could wind up with serious illnesses as a result of chickenpox.

Can I Prevent Chickenpox?

It is possible to lessen your chances of getting the first signs of chickenpox. By getting the vaccine for chickenpox, you can decrease the risk by 99 percent for children. The vaccine might not work as well for those who are older, but it does still provide some protection. Vaccinations for children should happen once between 12 and 15 months of age, and again between the ages of 4 and 6. Adults who have never had the virus can get two doses of the vaccine at least 28 days apart for the best protection.

How Can I Deal with Chickenpox?

As soon as the first signs of chickenpox appear, there are many things you can do to alleviate the symptoms.

Medications

There are few medications that can help you feel better, but some doctors might prescribe antivirals for those who are at high risk for complications. Antibiotics can be given if you have sores that become infected. Otherwise, home remedies are all that are recommended.

Self-Care Measures

  1. Avoid scratching. Though chickenpox can be terribly itchy, avoid scratching if at all possible. Put gloves on your hands and trim your fingernails to avoid the urge. Remember that scratching at the lesions can lead to longer healing time.
  2. Get some relief. The discomfort of chickenpox can make you feel miserable. Relief can be achieved through a bath with plenty of uncooked oatmeal mixed with baking soda in cool water. Calamine lotion can help as a topical treatment, and if sores develop in your mouth, a soft, bland diet is a good idea.
 
 
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