Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chickenpox - Reasons, Prevention, Cure, Treatment

How to beat Chickenpox? - Know about Prevention measures.
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What is Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a disease caused by a virus called Varicella zoster. It is an extremely contagious disease. It starts as a rash with itching, which disappears later. It can

affect several organs.

Who are the people affected by Chickenpox?

Though the disease is common in children, anyone can be affected. In children, the infection is mild but in adults, it can cause severe illness with several complications. Once infected, a lifelong immunity is obtained, protecting the individual from further attacks.

How does one get Chickenpox?

A person suffering from Chickenpox sheds the virus from the skin rash. This is carried through the air. If a person who is susceptible inhales tthe virus particles, it results in infection. The chance of getting chicken pox from an infected person is as high as ninety percent, if a person spends just 15 minutes in close proximity with an infected person. A person could become contagious a couple of days before the symptoms appear and remain so until all the lesions have crusted.

How does the disease progress?

The symptoms start 2-3 weeks after contact with the virus.

What is the treatment for Chickenpox?

Till recently there was no treatment available for chickenpox. One had to allow the disease to run its course. Now, treatment with Acyclovir, is recommended especially in adults to minimise complications. One should consult the doctor regarding he dosage. The blisters need to heal, scab, and fall off on their own. Scratching can exacerbate the rash and also cause secondary infection. So it is better to keep finger nails trimmed. Paracetamol can be taken to reduce the fever and antihistamines to control the itching. Painkillers may also be given. In India, many religious sentiments are attached to chickenpox. Many people are afraid to use any drug during the course of the disease. As said before, the disease regresses by itself. If sores develop inside the mouth, eating bland foods can minimize the irritation. Spicy and acidic foods should be avoided.

Is there a vaccine available for Chickenpox?

Yes, there is a vaccine available for chickenpox. This is given as an injection: Single dose for young children between the age of 12 months to 12 years Two doses with an interval of 8 weeks for those aged 13yrs and above.

What is Herpes Zoster?

Herpes Zoster is a painful localised rash caused by the varicella virus. In persons who have recovered from chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in certain nerves and can be activated spontaneously after several months or years.It may occur on the trunks or limbs and charecteristically involves only one side of the trunk. The rash is similar to the rash of chicken pox (fluid filled blisters) but is more crowded and extremely painful.

Can Herpes Zoster be cured?

Treatment of Herpes Zoster is with pain killers and Acyclovir 800 mg tablets, 4 to 5 times a day. LIke in chicken pox, the rash disappears in a few days, but older patients can be left with a severe pain and burning sensation at the site of the rash, even after the rash clears.

Are there any complications?

If the person has a depressed immune system resulting from coincidental illness like diabetes, renal failure, HIV or due to immuno suppresant drugs (after organ transplantation) the rash can spread all over the body and can even be life threatening. A susceptible person can develop chicken pox when exposed to a person with Herpes Zoster.

Is it dangerous for a pregnant woman to go near a person with chickenpox?

If a woman has already had chickenpox when she was young, then she would have the immunity to the disease. But if she has not had chickenpox, then she should be very careful not to get infected, because infection early in pregnancy can lead to several types of fetal abnormalities, including limb abnormalities, scarring of internal organs and neurological damage. When a mother has chickenpox just before or after delivery, the baby may develop a severe form of the disease, which may rarely be fatal. Expectant mothers should take all precautions to avoid exposure to chickenpox. If exposure does occur, a woman can be tested to determine if she has immunity (if she is uncertain whether she has had chickenpox). If the test is negative or not available, a drug is available that can prevent infection if taken within 96 hours of exposure. The drug provides only short-term protection, so women remain susceptible to chickenpox if exposed again in the future. Pregnant women who suspect exposure to the disease should contact their doctor immediately.

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