Chickenpox

A virus called the varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox

• The incubation period (before the spots appear) is usually 10 to 21 days.
• The symptoms are a slight fever, headache, fatigue and a loss of appetite for a day or two before pink spots of various sizes appear. The rash usually starts on the body, then progresses to include the head and limbs.
• Usually after 1 or 2 days, the pink spots turn into watery blisters and begin to crust within 6 to 8 hours.
• Chickenpox is contagious from about two days before the rash appears until roughly five days after.
• Chickenpox is spread by direct contact or by sneezing and coughing.
• The onset of Chickenpox is sudden. The ailment is very contagious and a baby is highly susceptible from birth.
• In severe cases, spots may cover the entire body. In most cases, the upper trunk of the body is most affected and the body is thought to resemble a plucked chicken. It is possible for ulcerated lesions to appear on the upper respiratory tract and the walls of the vagina and rectum.
• If an adult contracts Chickenpox, the infection is usually more severe than it is for children. Sometimes complications include bronchitis and other medical conditions. It is very important that your Doctor is consulted.
• After a person recovers from this ailment, they are usually immune for life from any other attacks. Epidemics of Chickenpox occur every 3 to 4 years. This is the time period required to develop a new group of susceptible children (children without immunity).
• It is possible that in later years, shingles may develop, as the Chickenpox virus remains dormant in the body

TREATMENT OPTIONS
Always consult your Doctor for diagnosis and advice. In no way is this information intended to replace the advice of a medical practitioner.
• Discourage the patient from scratching, as this may encourage infection and scarring. Keep fingernails short to avoid damaging the skin.
• Bathing often in mild soap and water and wearing clean underclothing will reduce the risk of bacteria infecting the Chickenpox sores.
• Avoid excessive sun exposure at this time.
• Treatment is based on relieving symptoms.
• An antihistamine may help to relieve severe itching. Ask your Pharmacist for advice.
• Wet compresses may be applied to help relieve itching.
• Paracetamol can be used to lower a fever.
• Do not give aspirin to children under 16.
• Adults and newborns with Chickenpox are often sicker than children. Their condition should be monitored to ensure that no complications develop. If the patient is not better after approximately 7 days, seek medical advice.
• Children with Chickenpox should not attend school or day care for at least 5 days from the onset of blisters.

Aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years of age unless specified by a Doctor.

DIET HINTS
• Maintain a healthy diet with a variety of nutritious foods including wholegrains, beans, peas, fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy products.
• If appetite is poor soups, broths and fresh vegetable and fruit juices are a good way to maintain calorie and nutrient intake.
• Refined sugars are thought to inhibit the activity of the immune system. Avoid foods and drinks with added sugars, including soft drinks, fruit juices with added sugars, cordial etc. Pure fruit juices should always be diluted 50% with water.
• Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.

PREVENTION
Prevention of Chickenpox is now possible, with vaccinations available for children and adults. Vaccination is recommended for:
• All healthy children over the age of nine months.
• Adults, particularly those at risk of infection. This includes adults working in occupations where they are likely to be exposed to the Chickenpox virus, such as child-carers, teachers and those in other health care-related fields.
• Parents of young children.
• People with no history of Chickenpox who live with immuno-compromised patients such as HIV patients, cancer patients, patients on immuno-suppressant medications.

VITAMINS/MINERALS/HERBS
• Vitamin A helps resist infection and is also an essential nutrient for skin.
• Vitamin C also supports the immune system and helps fight viral infection.
• Vitamin E helps prevent scarring of the skin.
• Echinacea to assist the immune system.
• Aloe vera may help relieve itching and assist the skin to heal.

PHARMACIST'S ADVICE
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Follow the Diet Hints.
2. If you need any advice about how to take or how to apply any prescribed medication, ask your Pharmacist.
3. Ask your Pharmacist for a product to control the itch. It is suggested to first add a suitable medicated product from your Pharmacy to a bath and soak for 20 minutes. Pat the skin dry and then apply a product such as a gel recommended by your Pharmacist, to help dry up the scabs. This should allow the skin to heal, preventing scars.
4. If you need a painkiller, paracetamol is one suggestion. Never give aspirin to young children because of the possible side effects.
5. Keep the patient as cool as possible.
6. Rest is very important for the patient.
7. Keep the fingernails trimmed and the hands clean to help stop any scarring because that can be caused by scratching.
8. If the diet is considered inadequate, some nutritional supplements might be considered.
9. A vaccine is available to protect against Chickenpox. Ask your Pharmacist for details.

Aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years of age unless specified by a Doctor.