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Chicken Pox - “VARICELLA”

Chicken Pox is a very common childhood disease caused by a virus.  The disease begins with early symptoms of decreased appetite, a low grade fever, running nose and possible sore throat.  The disease usually presents itself after about two weeks from the time of the exposure.  The disease is first identified with the onset of a (vesicle) rash on the face or head which spreads to the rest of the trunk and extremities over the next three to six days.  The rash begins as a small red raised spots which go through several stages one of which is a blister which crusts over within a weeks time.

In addition to the rash, one may experience severe itching, sleeplessness, irritability, decreased appetite and a low grade fever.  These symptoms resolve with the crusting of the pox.

Adults may experience body fatigue, a low grade temperature for one to three days before the appearance of the rash.  Adults may have difficulty with breathing with added symptoms of a cough, shortness of breath with activity and even chest pain.  This is because the virus can cause an irritation of the lung tissue uncommonly seen in children unless their immunity is compromised.  Chicken pox can also cause severe headaches in adults infected.

As with many childhood illnesses, chicken pox is a more severe disease in adults than in children.  For this reason, early treatment (begun day one or two of onset) will have a great benefit on the discomfort cause by the illness and the scarring from some of the individual pox.  The name of the medication used for this illness is ACYCLOVIR, which can be prescribed by your physician.

For symptomatic relief of the itching, the following remedies may help:

Cool baths - may want to add aveeno oatmeal to soothe itching.

Benadryl spray for individual areas of itch.

Benadryl tablets for nighttime itching.  This medicine does cause drowsiness.

One may consider cutting your nails if you are very itchy and prone to scratching ,

especially at night while asleep.

DO NOT TAKE ANY FORM OF ASPIRIN.

For malaise, tylenol or acetaminophen may be taken to lessen fever or backaches.

SOME FINAL COMMENTS:

Once you have had chicken pox you cannot get it again.  If you for some reason do not develop a complete immunity to the disease at the time you first had it, you may be subject to a very localized disease called Herpes Zoster, which is the chicken pox virus which has settled along nerve ending in a small area of your body.  This is not a common disease in college students but does occur.

If you have had the disease and are reexposed to someone with chicken pox, you cannot infect the virus to others who have not yet been infected.

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