Is there a treatment for chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a viral disease associated with skin rash and itch. The medical term for this condition is varicella, as the disease is caused by VZV, or varicella zoster virus. Chickenpox is a highly contagious droplet disease. It is transmitted through the air or direct contact with affected skin areas. An affected person is infectious during a week: from two days before the rash until the blisters crust over.
Signs and symptoms
Chickenpox is easy to diagnose as it has rather obvious symptoms, notably vesicular reddish rash, or pockmarks. The rash usually appears on the head and on the body and is accompanied with itch. Pockmarks may be found in the mouth or in the genitalia area. After several hours after its appearance, the rash progresses to blisters and then to scabs. Adults usually experience more severe symptoms, among which are nausea, inappetence, muscles weakness, mild fever and headache. Symptoms in children are usually limited to rash.
Treatment for chickenpox
The diagnosis of varicella is confirmed through analysis of the fluid within the blisters or through blood testing.
There is no cure for chickenpox, but there is rather efficient treatment for chickenpox symptoms. To reduce the duration of the infection and the severity of its symptoms, people commonly use oral antivirals, like acyclovir and valaciclovir. Acyclovir is the number-one treatment for chickenpox, and it should be taken 5 times a day for a week. However, these medicines have proved to be effective if taken within one or two days after rash appearance.
To relieve itch, people may use anti-itching lotions or cool compresses and take frequent warm baths. If the itching is still difficult to control, antihistamines may be prescribed (diphenhydramine, hydroxyzine, loratadine).
Other symptoms like headache and fever are managed with analgesics, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Note that aspirin should not be given to children, because it may become the reason of a life-threatening metabolic disorder known as Reye’s syndrome.
It is recommended to drink much water to prevent dehydration. If there are blisters in the mouth, hot, acidic and spicy or too salty food should be avoided. Rough and wool clothing should not be worn over the itching areas.
Although chickenpox is not a life-threatening disease, it is very dangerous in pregnant women. The infection may transmit to the fetus and lead to severe problems that include brain damage, body and skin disorders and neurological disorders.
Immunocompromised persons tend to have more severe symptoms and different complications.
After the treatment, VZV remains dormant in the body and normally it does not recur. However, later it may cause shingles, also referred to as herpes zoster.
To prevent further transmission of the infection, it is recommended to stay at home during the infectious period, to avoid scratching the pockmarks and to practice personal hygiene, notably to cut the nails and to take frequent baths. Children should wear gloves at night to avoid scratching.
Chickenpox may be also prevented with a vaccine. Although a vaccinated person still may be infected with VZV, he is likely to experience milder symptoms.
These articles can be used for informational purposes only. To get an accurate diagnosis consult your doctor!