Chickenpox Diagnosis And Treatment

Chickenpox Diagnosis And Treatment

Article by Patricia Davis

One of the classic children’s diseases is chickenpox, which is easily transmitted between children. Chickenpox can be transmitted by direct contact as well as by airborne transmission. Rare but serious complications can be caused by the disease, requiring immediate medical attention. The most effective method for avoiding chickenpox is by immunization against the disease. The most common symptoms of chickenpox are fever, headache, stomach ache, and loss of appetite, followed by an itchy rash of blisters, normally lasting for 2 to 4 days. The virus culprit of chicken pox is the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It is the same as the human herpes virus 3 (HHV-3), which causes herpes zoster, or shingles, in adults.

Chickenpox is usually diagnosed by observing the tell-tale rash and blisters that caused by chickenpox and from taking the sufferer’s medical history. Blisters located on the scalp are also a strong chickenpox indicator. Blood tests and various tests of the pox blisters themselves can confirm the chickenpox diagnosis.

As with other viral diseases, antibiotics are ineffective in combatting chickenpox. In the vast majority of cases, a chickenpox infection should simply be allowed to run its course. In most cases, the best course of treatment is to keep the chickenpox sufferer comfortable while allowing their natural defenses fend off the illness. Calamine lotion, oatmeal baths in lukewarm water, antihistamine lotions, and topical lotions can help alleviate some of the itching. If scratching of chickenpox blisters becomes a problem, it is best to keep fingernails trimmed short to reduce the chance of turning the blisters into sores, which can get infected which can cause scars.

Immunization is the best defence against chicken pox. However, there are some people who don not believe in vaccination for themselves and their children. To keep from transmitting chickenpox to people such as this, as well as unvaccinated visitors from other countries, it is recommended that chickenpox sufferers remain isolated at home until 4 days after the symptoms have passed.

There are various effective antiviral medicines available. They are most effective when they are administered within 24 hours of the appearance of the chickenpox rash. For the majority of healthy children, these medicines are unnecessary. However, these medicines are especially beneficial for adults and teenagers who generally develop more severe symptoms. Additionly, for people with lung conditions such as asthma, skin conditions such as eczema or recent sunburn, or those who have recently taken steroids, or those who need to take a regular aspirin regimen, antiviral medication may be an effective treatment.

Some physicians also prescribe the antiviral medicines to people who are living with a chickenpox sufferer but have not had chickenpox themselves. This is to help them avoid developing a more severe case of chickenpox as a result of their increased exposure to the disease. If you suspect that you or your child has contracted chickenpox, it is advisable to contact your doctor as soon as possible to avoid the risk of developing complications or transmitting the disease to others.

WARNING: DO NOT USE ASPIRIN. Unless instructed by your child’s doctor, never give aspirin to a child suffering from a viral illness since the use of aspirin in such cases has been linked to development of Reye’s Syndrome. Reye’s Syndrome is a serious and potentially deadly encephalitis-type illness. If pain-relief is necessary, acetaminophen and ibuprofen may be used safely.

About the Author

Patricia Davis enjoys writing for several online magazines, on health advice and wellness and health themes.

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MinuteClinic on Health: What is shingles?

Shingles, or herpes zoster, is the result of a prior infection with the varicella-zoster virus

What you should know:
•Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox
•Not contagious
•Clears up in a matter of weeks

Related Videos:
•All Shingles videos,
•Stress video,

Related Health Articles:
•Shingles Symptoms & Treatment
All that many people know about shingles is that it involves a painful rash. Many don't realize that the same herpes virus that leads to the common illness chicken pox also causes shingles. This virus is called "varicella zoster," so shingles is also known as "herpes zoster" or simply "zoster."... Read More:
•Herpes Zoster
Herpes zoster is an acute, localized infection with varicella-zoster virus, which causes a painful, blistering rash...Read More:

Hi, I'm Carmen Davailus and I'm a MinuteClinic nurse practitioner. Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is the result of a prior infection with the varicella-zoster virus, which causes a painful, blistering rash.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. After having an episode of chicken pox, the virus becomes dormant in the body. Shingles occurs as a result of the virus re-emerging after many years. The cause of the reactivation is usually unknown, but seems to be linked to aging, stress, or an impaired immune system. Often this reactivation is a one-time occurrence.
Shingles is diagnosed mostly using the rash as a detector. Its pattern and appearance almost always confirm the diagnosis, but a blood test or sample fluid from the blisters can provide definitive proof.
It's important to note that you can't catch shingles from someone else, since it can only be caused by the chicken pox virus lying dormant in your own body. But, if you haven't been vaccinated against chicken pox and have never had the childhood illness, you can develop chicken pox from having direct contact with someone who has shingles. Because of this, people with shingles should avoid direct physical contact with others who may not have had chicken pox-or may not have been immunized against chicken pox in the past-until all the blisters have scabbed over, at which time you are no longer contagious.
Although shingles causes pain and itching, it generally clears up in healthy people in a matter of weeks, with no lasting complications. Unfortunately in some cases, especially in the elderly, discomfort persists for months or even years. This condition is known as post-herpetic neuralgia. Also, in rare cases someone could suffer from the following complications: recurrence; skin infections; generalized illness; serious infections of the blood if you're immunosuppressed; blindness if lesions occur in the eye; deafness; loss of taste; or facial paralysis.
I hope this explains what shingles is. If you have any questions at all, talk to a MinuteClinic nurse practitioner. We're here to help.

Source: CVS Caremark Health Resources

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