What is chicken pox?
Chicken pox is a disease marked by an itchy rash that starts out as multiple small, red bumps that quickly change into thin-walled water blisters. These blisters develop into cloudy sores, which finally become dry, brown crusts. New waves of rashes often spring up over the next two to four days. The disease typically leaves children tired and slightly feverish.
A germ called the varicella zoster virus, which passes from person to person with remarkable ease. People with the illness carry the virus on their hands and release it into the air whenever they sneeze, cough, or even breathe.
First symptoms include a mild fever, headache, loss of appetite and general malaise. During this time, the rash of spots may appear anywhere on the body, starting as red blister like spots which scab within 24 hours. The infection is at its most contagious during the period immediately before the rash starts, and infectivity lasts until the vesicles have formed crusts. Once the rash appears, any fever and malaise generally diminishes, and the spots continue to appear over the next few days. The itchiness of the spots is most uncomfortable, and children should be cautioned not to scratch them as it could lead to scarring.
In normal circumstances, chickenpox will run its course, and the only treatment is to help relieve itching, reduce fever and prevent any bacterial infections or other complications. Drinking plenty of fluids and applying calamine lotion to the spots, is often the best form of management. A doctor should be contacted immediately if the child suffers a temperature rise, becomes confused, drowsy or complains of severe headache, neck stiffness or has any difficulty breathing.