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Overview:

Chickenpox in Children

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV). It can cause itchy and blister-like rashes that appear 10 to 21 days after exposure and infection with the virus. These rashes first appear on the chest, back, face, and then spread over the entire body, causing between 250 and 500 itchy blisters. 

Pediatric Chickenpox is a serious condition in babies, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and people with bodies that have weakened immune systems. People who haven’t had the disease or been vaccinated against it are more prone to it. The best way to prevent Chickenpox in children or older people is to get vaccinated against it.

Chickenpox in children was one of the most common diseases of childhood before the invention of the vaccine. Chickenpox in children usually clears up on its own if they are healthy. The immune system makes proteins called antibodies during the infection. These fight the virus and then provide lifelong protection against it. 

Causes (Or) Risk factors

  1. Exposure to those infected.
  2. Being unvaccinated.
  3. Newborns whose mothers never had Chickenpox or the vaccine.
  4. Adults.
  5. Pregnant women who haven’t had Chickenpox.
  6. Smoking.
  7. Weakened immune systems due to medications such as chemotherapy, or by a disease, such as cancer or HIV.
  8. Steroid medications .

Signs (Or) Symptoms

In most cases, the illnesses of Chickenpox in children are obvious and mild, and they include:

  • Fever.
  • Fatigue.
  • Aches and headache.
  • Itchy and blister-like rashes on the body.
  • Loss of appetite.

Diagnosis: Doctors can easily diagnose and identify Chickenpox in children by examining their skin.

Treatment and home remedies for pediatric Chickenpox

The majority of healthy children recover from varicella on their own. Despite the lack of a specific treatment, there are over-the-counter medications that can help alleviate chickenpox symptoms.

These include Tylenol (Acetaminophen) to relieve fever and Cool bath with added baking soda or uncooked oatmeal, Calamine lotion and antihistamines help relieve from itching. 

Tips for Pediatric Chickenpox in a nutshell:

  • Keep your child at home.
  • Soak in colloidal oatmeal baths .
  • Apply Calamine lotion .
  • Use non-aspirin medications to treat fever.
  • Consider itchiness relievers .
  • Trim your child’s fingernails short to avoid scratching.
  • Educate your child not to pick on his/her blisters to prevent scarring.
Dos: 
  1. Over-the-counter Medications : Use non-aspirin medications, such as acetaminophen to relieve fever.
  2. Stay Hydrated : In order to prevent dehydration and other complications associated with Chickenpox in children, it is important to drink lots of water & fluids.
  3. Reduce itching : Consider topical ointments, cool baths or oral Benadryl tablets.
  4. Maintain hygiene : Hands should be washed often and nails trimmed to prevent the spread of infection
  5. Consult Doctor : If your Chickenpox symptoms intensify, seek medical help as soon as possible.
Don’ts:
  1. Avoid Aspirin : Fever caused by varicella in children should not be treated with aspirin or aspirin-containing medications. Aspirin use for Chickenpox has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a serious liver and brain disease that can cause death.
  2. Avoid Pain relievers : Avoid anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, that trigger life-threatening bacterial skin infections.
  3. Don’t scratch : Stop scratching as it leads to the risk of scarring.
  4. Be Isolated : Avoid physical contact with others & stay home as Chickenpox in children or adults is highly contagious.

Complications 

Serious consequences are rare; however hospitalization is necessary for children with a weakened immune system because they may develop:

  1. Bacterial infections of the skin, blood and soft tissues.
  2. Encephalitis.
  3. Pneumonia.
  4. Dehydration.
  5. Blood clotting or healing issues.
  6. Liver problems.
  7. Bleeding problems .
  8. Spinal cord inflammation.
  9. Reye syndrome.
  10. Death.

Reye’s syndrome: Chickenpox fever should not be treated with aspirin or aspirin-containing medications. Aspirin use for varicella in children has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a serious liver and brain disease that can cause death.

Death: Deaths from varicella in children are very rare since the vaccine program was implemented. Unvaccinated children and adults continue to die from varicella, even though they are healthy.

Shingles: Varicella Virus reactivation causes Shingles, a disorder in which Chickenpox recurs a few years after it has cured. However, there is a Shingrix vaccine that prevents shingles.

Who is at Risk for complications? 

Following are the health conditions that are prone to complications of Chickenpox in children:

  • Infants, Adolescents, Adults
  • Pregnant women
  • Compromised immune system.
  • HIV/AIDS.
  • Cancer.
  • Transplants.
  • Using chemotherapy, immunosuppressive medications.
  • Using steroids.

When to see the doctor:

In most cases, it’s not necessary for the Chickenpox in children to be seen by a pediatrician. In any case, if your child has a fever of more than four days or the body temperature above 102°F should be reported to a pediatrician. Notify your pediatrician of all symptoms of varicella your child has, such as rashes, fever, etc.

And also, Consult the doctor if you are the one among the following: 

  • He/she has never had Chickenpox and has not been vaccinated against it.
  • Pregnant.
  • Weakened immune system.
  • Conditions such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, transplant treatment, or long-term use of steroids.
  • Symptoms of varicella that worsen over time .
  • Change in mental conditions like confusion or extreme sleepiness.
  • Trouble walking and breathing.
  • Stiff neck.
  • Frequent vomiting.

Prevention

Anti-Chickenpox vaccine is a safe and effective strategy to prevent varicella in children or adolescents, adults and its possible complications, as per the experts.

Vaccine:

Until 1995, varicella in children was a common disease among infants and teenagers. However, since the introduction of the Chickenpox vaccine into the market in 1995, the prevalence of Chickenpox has been declining in all age groups, notably among children aged 1-4 years. Children, adolescents, and adults who are not immune to varicella should receive two doses of the varicella vaccine to fight Chickenpox.

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