Chickenpox Varicella

Chickenpox Varicella

What are chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a spot disease. Varicella is the medical name for chickenpox. Chickenpox mainly occurs in children between 1 and 8 years. It is striking that it is observed at an increasingly younger age. Chickenpox mainly occurs in the winter. More than 90% of the adults went through chickenpox.

There is a vaccine against chickenpox. Children in the Netherlands are not vaccinated against chickenpox. For children with a weakened immune system there are antibodies that protect them against this childhood disease.

Symptoms chickenpox

Symptoms of chickenpox are:
  • often mild fever in the beginning
  • small red spots the size of a pinhead
  • the spots usually sit first on the torso and then on the face, arms, legs and hairy scalp
  • the chickenpox is sometimes also in the mouth, nose or vagina or penis
  • big itch; scratching can cause the blisters to ignite
  • filled blisters on the spots; these dry later into crusts
  • spots, blisters and scabs are present at the same time
The spots, blisters and scabs disappeared after one to two weeks. These almost always disappear without leaving scars. When scratches have caused infections, small scars can remain.

How do chickenpox arise?

Chickenpox is caused by a virus, the varicella-zoster virus. The virus is spread through moisture droplets in the air.
Chickenpox is contagious from one day before the blisters break out until the blisters are dried. The time between infection and the outbreak of the disease (the incubation period) is 14 to 21 days.
Going through chickenpox gives a lifelong resistance. That means that a child can only get chickenpox once. The virus remains in the body after the infection. Sometimes the virus can become active again after years and can lead to shingles.

Chickenpox Varicella. Is it serious and what can you expect?

Chickenpox is an innocent childhood disease. Children are usually hardly ill.
The management of schools, daycare centers and crèches often advises to keep a child with chickenpox at home until the blisters have dried. The reason for this is that other parents often object. However, this makes little sense, since contamination may have occurred before the blisters were broken.
For children it is good that they have been through chicken pox. They then no longer have the chance to get it later in life. Chickenpox can become more severe at an older age. Chickenpox can be serious in newborns and people with a disturbed immune system.

When to the doctor?

It is generally not necessary to consult the doctor, as a child with spot disease:
  • does not feel sick and
  • has no fever
A child with chickenpox does not in principle need to be seen by the doctor. Contact your doctor if your child:
  • feel sick
  • has a high fever
Only in very rare cases do complications (additional complaints) occur.

What can you do about it yourself?

  • Sometimes children with chickenpox have no appetite. Don’t force them on food. Make sure you drink enough. Tea, broth or fruit juices are the most suitable. Popsicles are often a good solution
  • Bed rest is only necessary if the child needs it. Also, the child does not necessarily have to stay inside. Even with a little fever, your child can go outside, if it feels like it
  • A child with chickenpox can simply take a bath or shower
  • In the case of itching you can dab the skin with vinegar or water in which a lemon has been squeezed. Heat often increases the itch. Sometimes a tepid shower helps. Menthol powder also has an enlightening effect. You can buy this at the drugstore. If your child has itching, keep his nails short and clean. Otherwise scratching your child’s skin can cause infections. For babies and toddlers let the diaper as much as possible and possibly put on socks or mittens against scratching
  • Paracetamol does not contribute to the recovery of chickenpox. However, the feeling of illness and the fever are temporarily suppressed

General advice and precautions

An innocent childhood disease such as chickenpox cannot be prevented. Moreover, it is good that children have been through chickenpox. This way they no longer have the chance to get it later in life. Chickenpox can be much more severe at an older age. You can and therefore do not have to take precautions for children. It is wise not to come close to an infected child for:
  • a pregnant woman who has never had chickenpox
  • a newborn child
  • someone with a disturbed immune system
 
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