Chickenpox or chickenpox is an infectious disease that is caused by a type of herpes virus. It is most often found in children. And it is not surprising, because given the high susceptibility of the body to the herpes virus, in the vast majority of cases, the first encounter with the infection occurs in kindergarten or school. That is, almost all adults have long had chickenpox at an early age and have a strong immunity against this disease. And this is good, because the older a person is, the more severe the disease is. Every parent should be prepared for the fact that one day a child will bring a virus from the children’s collective, and understand what to do with it. In this article, we will analyze the symptoms of chickenpox and learn how to treat it.
How does chickenpox infection occur
Chickenpox is caused by a type of herpes virus, in medicine it is called the Varicella-Zoster virus VZV. Interestingly, this infection can cause not only chickenpox, but also shingles, which is a more serious disease.
The herpes virus is transmitted by airborne droplets and contact – through dishes and household items. Through the mucous membrane, it enters the blood and is transferred to the epithelium of the skin and mucous membranes, where it begins to actively multiply. The immune system fights the virus, antibodies are produced, and the temperature rises. Almost immediately, a rash appears on the skin, in some cases, rashes are also observed on the oral mucosa. It should be noted that from the moment the virus enters the body to the manifestation of the first symptoms, it takes from a week to 21 days. Therefore, if any of the children or adults who come into contact with your child have chickenpox, you should be careful during this period of time.
After 5-7 days, the symptoms of the disease gradually go away, and the Varicella-Zoster virus goes into “sleep mode”. The favorite place of the herpes virus is the back roots of the spinal cord – here it is protected from our immunity. It may not manifest itself in any way during life. But when favorable conditions appear (a decrease in immune protection), the virus ” wakes up”, multiplies and penetrates into the epithelium of the skin, where the nerve endings are suitable. This is how herpes zoster, or shingles, develops.
Thus, patients with chickenpox and shingles are a source of infection.
Symptoms of chickenpox
- Rash. A characteristic symptom of chickenpox is a rash on the skin and sometimes on the mucous membranes. Skin manifestations of chickenpox often occur 1-2 days after an increase in temperature, but may appear simultaneously with this symptom. It all starts with the appearance of a pink spot, which gradually becomes a brighter color. Then, in the center of the spot, a nodule (papule) appears, which turns into a bubble filled with liquid. This liquid contains a virus, so during the appearance of bubbles, the patient is the most ” dangerous” for others. The bubble bursts and becomes covered with a dry crust, and after a couple of weeks the crust disappears.
Elements of the lesion in chickenpox can be anywhere – in the armpits, on the head, trunk, arms and legs, and even in the mouth and groin area. The number of rashes depends on the state of the patient’s immunity. The weaker it is – the more bubbles there are.
- The increase in temperature. Most often, the temperature rises to 38 C, but sometimes it is higher. There are cases when the temperature in chickenpox does not rise at all. Again, it all depends on the state of the body’s defenses.
- Enlarged lymphnodes . Sometimes with chickenpox, the parotid, submandibular and axillary lymph nodes increase. This is the immune system’s response to the virus.
- Violation of the general condition – loss of appetite, weakness, drowsiness, irritability. All the fault is intoxication of the body and itchy rashes that make the child capricious.
As a rule, unpleasant symptoms do not last more than 5-7 days. During this entire period, the child can infect others, and therefore it is necessary to isolate him from the team. After 5 days after the appearance of the last rash, you can return to kindergarten or school.
Differences between measles and chickenpox
Given that measles has been around lately, uninitiated people who have never experienced these diseases may mistake chickenpox for measles. Indeed, these diseases have common symptoms – fever and skin rashes.
The differences are that with measles, rashes appear 3 or even 5 days after the temperature rises, and with chickenpox, skin manifestations occur earlier – either together with the heat, or after 1-2 days.
Rashes also differ. With measles, there are no bubbles, red spots form on the skin with a nodule in the middle. In addition, the rash appears first on the mucous membranes, and chickenpox does not always affect the mucous membrane.
With chickenpox, the blisters heal quite quickly, and the redness of the skin does not last long. The measles rash lasts longer, and bright pink or red spots remain on the skin for another 3 weeks.
Treatment of chickenpox
The immune system is able to cope with the infection on its own. Our task is not to interfere with him, that is, not to give the child anything extra. Drugs that stimulate the immune system will not help at best, and at worst – only harm.
Children with normal immunity (and these are the vast majority) are recommended symptomatic treatment. At a high temperature, we give antipyretic drugs, and treat itchy rashes with an antiseptic.
Children with immunodeficiency, or with severe forms of chickenpox, the doctor may prescribe acyclovir. This drug has a proven effect against the herpes virus. It helps to reduce the duration of the disease by one day and reduce the number of rashes. Children under the age of 2 years are contraindicated. Acyclovir is effective only on the first day of the disease. It is used intravenously (in severe cases), in the form of tablets and local ointments. Despite its effectiveness, acyclovir is not recommended by pediatric associations in developed countries, as the immune system is able to fight the virus without assistance. In addition, the effectiveness of preventing complications of chickenpox with acyclovir has not been proven to date.
Let’s take a closer look at ways to relieve the symptoms of chickenpox in a child:
- Copious drinking to relieve intoxication, ventilation of the room and hygiene – regular change of clothes, clean hands, household items and separate dishes for the patient.
- We reduce the high temperature with antipyretic drugs recommended in childhood-ibuprofen and paracetamol.
With chickenpox, in no case do not reduce the temperature with aspirin. This can lead to a rather serious complication – Reye’s disease (severe damage to the heart and liver).
- Treatment of rashes with antiseptics. The classic of the genre is zelenka. This antiseptic is widely known and loved by previous generations. Contrary to the prevailing stereotypes, zelenka does not treat chickenpox and does not even relieve itching, but only dries, and sometimes over-dries rashes. Thanks to the bright color, this tool is convenient to mark new bubbles, and it is also a kind of” family ritual ” and proof of caring for the child.
The purpose of treating rashes is primarily to prevent the addition of infection and relieve itching. You can use colorless products that do not stain your clothes and bed – salicylic alcohol, baneocin, psyl-balsam and a number of antihistamine ointments. Rashes in the mouth can be treated with sea buckthorn oil, solcoseryl, or rinse with solutions of calendula, chamomile and other herbal antiseptics. The doctor will tell you what remedy is suitable for your child.
Here, in fact, is all the treatment. It is important to distract the child from itchy skin, in order to avoid scratching and scratching. The crusts will fall off on their own, but if you “help ” them, you can leave the memory of the disease in the form of scars and smallpox for the rest of your life.
Let the chicken pox give you a minimum of unpleasant troubles!