Chickenpox is a common illness that usually resolves in two to three weeks with proper home care and symptom management. The chickenpox vaccine may also help to prevent the illness or decrease the severity of symptoms. The vaccine is available to children under the age of 15 months, and catch-up booster vaccines can be administered to older children and at-risk adults.
When an individual is exposed to the chickenpox virus, the first noticeable symptoms of infection are fever, tiredness and a general ill-feeling, also referred to as malaise. Those coming down with chickenpox may also experience appetite loss and severe headaches. In certain cases, severe nausea or vomiting may occur.
In addition to fever and malaise, people infected with the chickenpox virus may also develop sore throats and experience coughing fits. These symptoms typically develop within 14 to 16 days of exposure to the virus.
The most common sign of chickenpox is a telltale rash that can develop anywhere on the body. However, this rash does not usually appear until the first symptoms develop, which can often be mistaken for the common cold or flu. The chickenpox rash presents as pink, fluid-filled blisters that appear in small clusters over a period of two to four days.
The blisters are extremely itchy and can cause significant pain and discomfort when scratched. Over time, the blisters open, leak fluid and form scabs. While it can be tempting to scratch the skin in order to find relief, doing so can lead to infections and permanent scarring.
The chickenpox virus, also called the varicella-zoster virus, is a contagious infection that is most common in children, but can also affect adults who have not been vaccinated or who did not contract the virus as children. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and sufferers usually recover on their own within a few weeks' time.
Due to the contagious nature of the illness, it is important for sufferers to recover at home to avoid spreading the virus to others. Learning about the common signs of chickenpox can help ensure early detection of potential symptoms, allowing at-risk adults and parents of at-risk children to take the appropriate measures for treating the illness.