Chickenpox: A Contagious Summer Illness

photo taken from Medical News Today

photo taken from Medical News Today

We all know that winter is cold and flu season, but that’s no reason to stop the self-care and good hygiene as the weather warms up. There are all varieties of summer sickness (think summer rash, chickenpox, sore eyes and e-coli) that you need to know about in order to best protect yourself, your kids and your family. These illnesses range from the annoying to the deadly so it’s important to be aware and take care to avoid exposure if at all possible. But let’s focus on another dreaded summer illness, chickenpox.

Chickenpox is a viral infection that causes an itchy rash of spots all over the body and flu-like symptoms. It used to be a common childhood illness, especially in kids under age 12.  It causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. The rash appears first on the stomach, back and face and then spreads over the entire body causing between 250 and 500 itchy blisters.

How is chicken pox treated? Fortunately most healthy children and adults who get chicken pox will not require much or any medical attention or chicken pox treatment. In most cases a chicken pox skin rash will go away on its own within about two weeks without any medications or other interventions. However, in severe cases the virus can cause symptoms that linger for months, or, rarely, other complications such as scarring or pneumonia.

If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer from chicken pox symptoms for many weeks or even longer, there are a number of home remedies available for natural chicken pox treatment. These include things like taking soothing baths with oatmeal, applying anti-inflammatory products to the skin, and reducing body aches with essential oils. Treatments for chicken pox won’t “cure” the virus or prevent it from spreading to other people, but they can be really helpful for reducing itching, scabbing, fever symptoms, risk for infection and permanent scarring of the skin.

Chicken Pox Risk Factors, Causes & Symptoms

Chicken pox is very contagious and spreads easily from person to person. Chicken pox can spread even without direct contact since the virus can travel through the air via tiny respiratory droplets that are breathed in. It can also be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person’s skin fluids.

Chicken pox symptoms usually appear within about two to three weeks after someone comes into contact with the virus. The most common chicken pox symptoms include:

Developing a red skin rash that is usually severely itchy and uncomfortable. The rash usually forms on the face, scalp, chest, back and, to a lesser extent, on the arms and legs. Typically a chicken pox rash will be active for about five days before the blisters fill with fluid, rupture, and then form scabs.

Fever that usually lasts under five days and can cause symptoms like a stiff neck, nausea, body aches, etc.

Abdominal pain and loss of appetite.

Headaches.

Fatigue, unease (malaise) and lethargy.

Sometimes a dry cough and sore throat.

Rarely, someone will get chicken pox more than once; however, the vast majority of the time chicken pox only affects people one time (usually while they are a child).

What are the biggest risk factors for developing chicken pox?

These include:

Never having had chicken pox before, which means someone is not yet immune to the virus.

Having close contact with anyone who is infected or was recently infected (both children and adults).

Working in close contact with children, such as in a daycare or school.

Never having been vaccinated for chicken pox.

Being an infant or newborn whose mother never had chickenpox or the vaccine.

Having a weakened immune systems or taking immuno-suppressing medications (such as steroids), which can include cancer treatments or treatment for HIV.

Prevention is key when it comes to protecting yourself or your children from chicken pox. The most common way that someone gets chicken pox is through direct contact with another infected person’s skin, such as through exposure to fluids that leak from chicken pox blisters. If possible, avoid direct contact with someone who has an active case of chicken pox.

If a child or adult with chicken pox is otherwise healthy, then most doctors will recommend simply staying home, resting, possibly taking an over-the-counter (OTC) painkiller to manage symptoms, and giving the virus time to pass. The vast majority of children and adults who do develop chicken pox will fully overcome the virus within several weeks and experience no long-term health problems as a result. However, when someone has a compromised immune system — for example, due to a history of another illness or from taking immuno-suppressant drugs — there are certain serious complications that can be caused by chicken pox.

Natural Remedies for Chicken Pox Treatment

Don’t scratch.

Apply a cool compress.

Take an oatmeal bath.

Apply baking soda, apple cider vinegar, honey or an antihistamine lotion.

Use neem and jojoba oils.

Apply essential oils.

Use antiviral herbs and supplements to boost immune function.

Stay hydrated and eat a bland diet.

If all else fails, or you have a fever, try OTC pain medicine. Don’t take aspirin.

 

Vance Madrid

Freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, social media manager, events coordinator, scriptwriter, film buff, wanderlust and certified foodie. Zealous for a keyboard and new experiences, I wish to live and learn through my writing.