Healthy Living

Is Chickenpox a Viral Infection?

Is Chickenpox a Viral Infection?

Key Takeaways

  • Chickenpox mostly occurs in children, with up to 90 percent of children aged ten and younger being exposed to the virus.  
  • A person who is vaccinated for the chickenpox doesn’t normally get the disease.
  • Mucus can also help in the spread of the disease.

Chickenpox is caused by a virus, called the varicella zoster virus, which causes people to become infected after being in contact with an infected child or adult. Being an airborne disease, chickenpox spreads easily and rapidly through sneezing and coughing, as well as through direct contact with the secretions from the blisters. In the majority of cases, the pox marks heal up without scarring, as long as the blisters were not agitated through itching. It is a common disease observed mostly in children, and the virus causing it, namely the varicella zoster virus, is a type that causes herpes. It is a minor disease that develops itchiness on the skin, forms rashes all over the body, and forms blisters that have fluids in them that later dry up, forming a scab. Sometimes, serious illness occurs in children, adults, and also for persons who have very weak immunity. Some of the outcomes that can be observed include pneumonia, encephalitis, and bacterial infections of the skin. Mostly chicken pox is observed during the cold months of the year.

One of the most common symptoms of the chickenpox is a rash. However, other symptoms, like fever, headache, and loss of appetite, also start developing as signs of the viral infection in the body. Most cases of chickenpox occur through contact with an infected person. The virus may be contagious several days before blisters appear, and it remains contagious until all of the blisters have crusted over. Anyone who has not been previously exposed to the virus may contract the virus. High-risk patients are usually young, elderly, or the ones having some sort of underlying medical issues. Chickenpox mostly occurs in children, as up to 90 percent of children 10 years of age and younger are exposed to the virus. Once one is vaccinated, an individual doesn’t normally get the disease, or if one gets the disease, it is minor and can be easily managed. Chickenpox usually starts with a high body temperature, and one feels tired a lot. Then blisters form, and they are so itchy that one destroys the skin while itching. This type of blister later becomes dry, and it can result in a permanent mark on the body. The scabs become more prominent in the areas that are covered with clothing. These features are observed mostly on the armpits, trunk, and in the eyelids. This disease attacks more children as compared to adults.

This disease is easily spread from one person to another. It can spread through getting in touch with the blisters when washing the child, dressing the child, or applying oil to the child. It can also be spread through the saliva through kissing people and coughing toward other people. Mucus can also help in the spread of the disease, possibly through cleaning the child's nose carelessly or being present when the child sneezes. The disease can also be spread from one person to another through a cough, causing the spread of saliva, hence infecting others.

Chickenpox can also be spread through the touching of contaminated clothes, which had been worn by the infected persons. Direct touching of the blisters, the infected lesions, or someone who had shingles before could lead to developing the chickenpox disease. Sometimes the blisters spread the disease, but, when the blisters are dry, they don’t spread the disease and hence are safe. When the disease has gotten into someone’s system, the signs and symptoms appear in two weeks’ time. Once chickenpox heals, most people become immune to the virus, as varicella zoster stays dormant in the body. In rare cases, it may reemerge. If the patient’s immune system is temporarily weakened, possibly due to advanced age or illness, varicella zoster may reactivate in the form of shingles. Otherwise, patients usually return to their normal activities within one to two weeks of proper diagnosis.

Some complications come up with the issue of poor immunity for children who have been born and are less than one month old. Any other individual with a poor immune system, like those with cancer or the HIV/AIDS virus, have a very high chance of getting the disease. Reye syndrome is also a related disease that is caused by taking the aspirin drugs. One is capable of spreading the disease from one person to another some few days before the rash appears on the skin. Although most cases of chickenpox can be resolved by themselves, antiviral drugs may be prescribed to those who experience complications from the virus or to those who are at risk for adverse effects. These antiviral drugs do not fully cure chickenpox, but they do make the symptoms less severe, making the body more likely to heal faster.

Many people, once infected, don’t get the disease easily. Despite this, the virus causing the disease remains in the body for a very long time. This can later become contagious. Acyclovir is the best drug that is prescribed for the treatment of the chickenpox virus. It can also be applied to people who are of good health to protect one from the disease. Children are given the varicella vaccine at one year of age and between four to five years of age. In preventing the spreading of chickenpox, those people who have the chickenpox virus should stay indoors to avoid the spread of the disease. During the spread of the disease in case of an outbreak, immunization should be done to prevent the disease going further.

To comment further, the chickenpox vaccine prevents chickenpox in 90 percent of children who receive it. A booster is given between 4 and 6 years of age, which is the followup of the vaccination given by injecting a shot that is given when the child is between 12 and 15 months of age. Older children and adults who have not been vaccinated or exposed may receive catch-up doses of the vaccine. As chickenpox tends to be more severe in older patients, patients who did not previously vaccinate may opt to have the shots given later. Also, people who were unable to receive the vaccine can try to avoid the virus by limiting contact with infected people, which can be equally difficult, as chickenpox cannot be identified by blisters until it has been contagious for days.