Chicken Pox, or varicella, is a common viral infection in children and sometimes in adults which results in an eruption of highly itchy rash with formation of pustules all over the skin and mucosal membranes. It is a highly contagious condition and before the introduction of vaccine against varicella, almost every individual had a history of one bout of chicken pox at the time of adulthood.
The virus behind this disease is called Varicella Zoster. The same virus is also responsible for shingles (Herpes Zoster). It can be transmitted from an infected individual very rapidly by direct contact, or air droplets produced via coughing or sneezing. Risk factors of getting chicken pox are:
- No history of getting chicken pox
- Non-vaccinated individuals
- Close contact with patients
This condition usually presents at first with flu like symptoms: mild fever, body pain, loss of appetite, malaise and fatigue. The rash then appears and undergoes the following transition:
- Raised pink or red bumps
- Small fluid filled blisters
- Crusts and scabs
The duration of these symptoms is usually about five to ten days.
The diagnosis of chicken pox is easily made on clinical inspection of the typical rash.
In healthy children, no treatment is required and the condition typically resolves on its own. In older or aged adults, especially in which complications can be anticipated, certain antivirals may be used.