Saturday, 12 July 2008

Chicken Pox

Chicken pox, also called varicella, it is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which passes from person to person with remarkable ease, it typically causes an itchy rash that starts out as small red bumps. These bumps quickly change into clear, fluid-filled blisters on a pink base, which eventually become dry brown crusts. New waves of blisters often spring up as the illness progresses. The rash often appears first on the scalp, face, or trunk, it can then spread over the entire body. Children usually get between 250 and 500 blisters, although it's possible to have just a few. Many children get tired and slightly feverish, they may loose their appetite and have a mild headache or abdominal pain. Before the rash appears they may have a cough or a runny nose. Chicken pox usually lasts five to ten days.

People with chicken pox can pass the virus along by touching someone after touching the blisters or coughing or sneezing onto their hand, or by releasing it into the air whenever they sneeze, cough, or even breathe. The virus can also spread from direct contact with the fluid from the blisters before they crust over. Children are most contagious the day or two before the rash erupts, usually before parents know their child is sick. Once your toddler has been exposed to the virus, it usually takes 14 to 16 days for the pustules to appear, although they can show up anytime between ten and 21 days. In most cases it is a pain in the neck more than a danger to your child but in very rare cases it can cause serious complications, like a bacterial skin infection, pneumonia or encephalitis, a swelling of the brain. It is best to contact a doctor if your child has chicken pox, if you toddler seems sicker than expected, if they develops a fever after the first few days, if the rash spreads to their eyes, or if the skin around the pox becomes swollen, painful, or very red or if you have any concerns.

Adult who get chicken pox generally get shingles, shingles is the same virus that causes chicken pox can cause a painful rash in adults. When a child has chicken pox, the virus remains in the body and can reappear as shingles many years later. This happens to about one in ten adults who had chicken pox earlier in life.

It may seem like an impossible task, but try to keep your toddler from picking and scratching their sores, as this can slow the healing process. Sores that aren't allowed to heal can leave scars. You can alleviate the itching with calamine lotion applied to each sore and keeping your child's nails short can help. You can bring down the fever with children painkillers but always read the label to be sure it is safe for your toddler