I recently picked up chicken pox and my rashes are still healing. Thought of sharing with you all a detailed post on chicken pox.
What just started as a post, has to be compiled into “posts”.. Yes! there is so much information that I gathered once I got chicken pox. And I just don’t want to keep all that with myself.. hence this concept of “Chicken Pox Blue Book”!
Expect lot more posts on chicken pox your way from this “blue book”.
What is chicken pox?
Chicken pox is a common disease in India, caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV). Chicken pox is a highly contagious, airborne disease – people can get affected by the nasal fluids of an infected person while coughing or sneezing and also by coming in contact with the liquid from the chickenpox blisters.
Chicken pox is prevalent during the spring-summer months in India, since the virus thrives in such a tropical environment.
How to identify chicken pox?
Once the virus enters your body, it stays in silently and keeps multiplying for about 2 weeks inside, without showing any external symptoms.
Your first symptom of chicken pox could be a liquid filled blister (called pustule) in any part of your body, accompanied by fever, headache, sore throat, body pain & general discomfort of the whole body.
The rashes start spreading all over the body – even to your scalp, palms, feet & private parts!
The rashes can keep erupting for about 3-5 days & then take about a week to wean & heal off completely.
As such there is no treatment to kill the virus. Your body has to fight out the virus by producing anti-bodies.
But there are anti-viral medicines available on prescription, that can inhibit the fast multiplication of virus inside the body. These help controlling the disease to some extent & need to be given within 24 hrs. of identifying chicken pox, after which they fail to show any effect on the virus!
Doctors generally prescribe some antibiotics too – to prevent/kill any secondary infection that can be caused due to low immunity caused by chicken pox.
Chicken pox in adults can be quite severe leading to secondary viral or bacterial pneumonia in most cases. If you are already asthamatic or have some known respiratory infection/disease earlier, you are at higher risk! Hence, the anti-virals & antibiotics definitely help!
Your body is at war & the great news is that these anti-bodies remain in your body life long, keeping a guard against chicken pox infection forever!
One needs to be isolated when identified with chicken pox – even if other people in the family are already vaccinated/immune to chicken pox.
If you have a small baby at home – take care that you don’t go near the baby or touch his things. Other people in the family too need to follow cleanliness strictly so as to not affect the baby. Chicken pox in neo-natals can be quite severe too!
You will need complete rest – no work, no television, no internet! Remember – your body is at battle!!!
Do not scratch or rub at the site of the rashes.. this causes the infected liquid inside the rash to spread & cause secondary infection… this serves as an invitation to other fungal & bacterial infections to settle in the body causing double-trouble!
Keep some calendula cream or calamine lotion handy to spread on the skin, when its really itchy. Calamine is part of the anti-histamines family and helps cooling down & soothing the itchy sensation.
Do not take bath or use any kind of soap, creams or lotions on your body. Strictly no water on the rashes!
Can I take chicken pox vaccine?
If you haven’t got chicken pox in your childhood (yes..this affects children mostly!) & have still not got chicken pox ever in your life, you can definitely take a shot of this vaccine after consulting your doctor.
You may get mild chickenpox like symptoms (including mild rashes) after you take the vaccine, but that’s about it. You are immune to the disease!
In later years of life, you can test your blood for the antibodies titre level against chicken pox once. If the titre level is below desirable levels to fight chickenpox without acquiring the disease, it is advised to take a booster dose – again of course in consultation with your doctor.
If you have got chicken pox as an adult, there is no necessity to opt for vaccination – since you are self-immune to the disease now!
Indian tradition on Chicken pox
In India, when a person is infected with chicken pox, it is believed that Goddess Durga is come into him/her.
It is considered to be a blessing that the Goddess has come to reside in one & pooja is done to please the Goddess, when the rashes get crusted.
Neem leaves (considered to be anti-viral, anti-bacterial & anti-inflammatory) is kept around the place where the infected person is lying and also in the door panel outside the house to let people know that someone in the house is infected with chicken pox.
People don’t attend get-togethers nor entertain guests at home, since the Goddess is residing in the house! In a way, less interaction with people inhibits spread of the disease too!
I shall do detailed posts soon on chicken pox during pregnancy to alleviate all your doubts & questions on this infection when pregnant! 🙂
Keep following this space for more on chicken pox diet, Indian tradition,shingles & more…..in “The Chicken Pox Blue Book” 🙂