Chickenpox Treatment Hacks Your Doctor Hasn’t Told You About

February 27, 2024

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Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It commonly affects children, causing an itchy, blister-like rash and fever. While chickenpox is usually mild in healthy kids, it can result in more severe illness and complications for some groups. Understanding chickenpox treatment and prevention methods is key to properly caring for those infected and avoiding infection in the first place.

An Overview of Chickenpox Signs, Symptoms, and Transmission

The most distinctive symptom of chickenpox is an itchy skin rash that turns into fluid-filled blisters before scabbing over. The rash often first appears on the face, scalp, or trunk then spreads to other parts of the body. Aside from the rash, common chickenpox symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite

Symptoms usually start 10-21 days after exposure to someone with chickenpox. The infection spreads through direct contact with the rash/blisters or by breathing in respiratory droplets from an infected person. Chickenpox is contagious 1-2 days before the rash appears until all blisters are crusted over.

Chickenpox Complications

While most healthy children recover fully, complications can occur, including:

Certain groups also face an elevated risk of serious illness, namely:

  • Adults
  • Infants under 12 months
  • Pregnant women and newborns
  • Immunocompromised individuals

For these higher risk groups, promptly starting antiviral treatment can reduce severe outcomes.

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Treating Chickenpox Symptoms and Helping the Infection Run Its Course

As there is no cure for chickenpox, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and allowing the infection to resolve. Here are some methods for chickenpox care and relief:

Soothing Itchy Skin

  • Calamine lotion – Relieves itchiness and dries rash
  • Colloidal oatmeal baths – Soothe irritated skin
  • Lukewarm baths with baking soda or uncooked oatmeal

Reducing Fever

  • Acetaminophen (not aspirin) – Lowers fever and body aches

Staying Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Popsicles or ice chips for kids with sore throat

Preventing Scratching/Scarring

  • Light, loose clothing
  • Keep fingernails trim
  • Try not to scratch

Most cases of chickenpox get better within a week or two without specific treatment. But call your doctor about:

  • Rash/fever lasting over 5 days
  • Severe cough or breathing issues
  • Extreme illness/complications

For high-risk groups, antiviral medication like acyclovir may be prescribed to speed healing and reduce complications.

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Preventing Chickenpox Infection Through Vaccination

The best way to prevent chickenpox is by getting vaccinated. The FDA has approved a highly effective chickenpox vaccine called Varivax. It’s routinely given to children in 2 doses:

  • 1st dose: 12-15 months old
  • 2nd dose: 4-6 years old

The vaccine provides strong protection and has dramatically reduced chickenpox cases. It can also reduce severity in breakthrough cases. Adults without evidence of immunity can get vaccinated as well.

Interpreting Chickenpox Exposure When Vaccinated

If exposed to someone with chickenpox after being fully vaccinated, watch for symptoms over 3 weeks post-exposure.

Likelihood of developing chickenpox after vaccination:

  • No symptoms: Highly unlikely to get chickenpox
  • Mild symptoms: Low possibility of breakthrough infection
  • Severe symptoms: Seek medical care to evaluate

Staying up to date on the chickenpox vaccine remains vitally important to control spread of this frustrating viral nuisance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chickenpox

What medicine helps chickenpox?

While there’s no treatment that cures chickenpox, antiviral medication like acyclovir may be prescribed by doctors in certain cases to help speed healing. More commonly, over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or antihistamines can provide symptomatic relief. Topical creams containing calamine or colloidal oatmeal also soothe itchy skin.

What should I avoid if I have chickenpox?

When recovering from chickenpox, avoid contact sports to prevent trauma to skin lesions. Also refrain from scratching lesions to lower chances of scarring and skin infection. Because chickenpox can cause liver inflammation, those with active infection should not take aspirin or ibuprofen without consulting a physician first.

How do you stop chickenpox from spreading?

The most surefire way to halt chickenpox spread is through vaccination. If already infected, strict isolation precautions should be taken, staying home from school/work until lesions heal. Maintaining hand hygiene also reduces transmission. Once all scabs disappear marks the end of the contagious period for an individual case.

Can adults get chickenpox twice?

It’s quite rare but second cases of chickenpox do occasionally happen. However, over 95% of properly vaccinated children and formerly infected teens/adults have long-lasting immunity. For those few that experience chickenpox more than once, subsequent cases tend to be even milder.

What helps chickenpox itching?

Adding baking soda or colloidal oatmeal to bath water can temporarily ease itching. Calamine lotion also effectively soothes irritated skin and drying blisters. For severe itchiness, prescription antihistamines or topical treatments may offer additional relief. Light clothing, trimming nails, and avoiding scratching also help reduce discomfort.

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Key Takeaways

  • Chickenpox causes an itchy blister-like rash along with fever, malaise
  • While usually self-limited in kids, serious complications can occur
  • Treatment focuses on symptomatic relief and antivirals for high-risk cases
  • Getting fully vaccinated prevents over 90% of chickenpox infections
  • If infected, stay home from work/school until all lesions have crusted

So chickenpox can certainly be an unpleasant ordeal. However, understanding modern prevention strategies and self-care techniques makes combatting this virulent nuisance much more achievable.

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