Chickenpox

Introduction
Chickenpox is a common childhood skin disease caused by a viral infection. Presently, chickenpox is less prevalent in the United States due to vaccination. However, it still occurs in populations that are not vaccinated regularly.

Those who are not immunized tend to contract chickenpox by the time they reach15 years of age. Though most of them are between ages 5 and 9, anyone can get afflicted with it. Chickenpox is mainly severe in adults and very young infants compared to children. Winter and spring are the most susceptible periods for chickenpox to attack.

Cause
Chicken pox is contagious. The causative virus is called as varicella-zoster virus. This virus is often categorized with other common viral agents that cause measles, German measles, fifth disease, mumps virus, and roseola. All these viruses are known for their ability to cause rashes.

This rash spreads easily in those who have rash. It can get transmitted through cough or sneeze.

Symptoms
Symptoms generally occur between 10 and 6 days after exposure with the virus. Chickenpox typically results in one to two days of mild fever (102° F), general weakness, and rash. This marks the onset of the disease. Rash is the most common symptom.

Chickenpox rash initially results in raised red spots. Eventually, it progresses to blisters, which bursts and form open sores. Afterwards, the crust gets formed. Scalp gets affected first followed by the trunk finally spreading to arms and legs. Areas prone to irritation are most probable to get afflicted by an itchy rash.

Treatment
Majority of the treatments for chickenpox are focused on reducing the symptoms that comprise of severe itching. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is recommended to decrease the fevers and aches present during the onset of the viral infection. Antihistamines such as Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are helpful in controlling the itching. In addition to medications, there are several preventive measures also. In young children, it is essential to keep trim the in order to minimize injury caused by scratching and also to combat probable secondary bacterial infections.

In few cases of chickenpox, an antiviral known as acyclovir (Zovirax) is recommended. It is effective when taken during initial stages of chickenpox. This medication is usually given to patients facing risks of severe skin diseases.

One should be careful to not administer acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) or aspirin-containing cold medications to children due to associated risks of developing Reye’s syndrome (a severe metabolic disease linked with liver and brain dysfunction, ultimately leading to death).

Natural Remedies

  • Oatmeal baths are known to reduce the itching associated with chickenpox. Also, soothing lotions and moisturizers such as calamine or other similar solution can be used for treating the rash.
  • Honey is applied on area affected with chicken pox.
  • Using green pea water is effective home remedy to treat children suffering from chicken pox.
  • Natural vinegar is helpful in reducing rashes.
  • Neem leaves are most effective in treating chicken pox. The leaves are boiled and used to bathe the patient.
  • Baking soda and water paste helps in treating rashes.

Homeopathic Remedies
Aconitum is used to treat initial symptoms such as fever, restlessness, and increased thirst.

Antimonium crud is given to children having pimples and itchy pustules particularly after exposure to water.

Apis is given to children with itchy and stinging pox worsened with heat. Belladonna is suitable for children having severe headache, flushed face, hot skin, and drowsiness.

Rhus tox is the most common remedy for chickenpox. These children undergo intense itching, during night. They also tend to be restless.

Ayurvedic Remedies
Swarnamakshika, Eladyarishta and Indukala vati are some of the Ayurvedic remedies for treating chicken pox.

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References
1. Schmader KE, Oxman MN (2012). Varicella and herpes zoster. In LA Goldman et al., eds., Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2383–2401. New York: McGraw-Hill.

2. Whitley RJ (2010). Varicella-zoster virus. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1963–1969. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

3. Habif TP, et al. (2011). Herpes simplex section of Viral infections. In Skin Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment, 3rd ed., pp. 224–229. Edinburgh: Saunders.

4. Hambleton S (2011). Varicella-zoster virus In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph’s Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 1160–1164. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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