Quite an uncomfortable infection, chicken pox can make you bed ridden for around a week or two. Also known by the name varicella, chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by infection with varicella zoster virus (VZM). VZM virus is one of eight herpesviruses known to infect humans and most commonly targets children, teenagers, and young adults. The chickenpox virus multiplies in lungs and after causing chickenpox, it is most likely to go into a dormant state in nerves. This makes the sufferer susceptible to neurological conditions years after recovery from chicken pox.
Earlier chickenpox and smallpox were not considered as same diseases. Chickenpox was separated from smallpox in late 19th century. The name ‘chicken’ was used probably due to relative mildness of the disease as compared to smallpox.
Even after being rarely fatal, chickenpox has been blamed to cause nearly 64,000 deaths per year. Symptoms of chicken pox begin to appear nearly 10 to 21 days after exposure to varicella zoster virus and lasts for around 5-7 days. The symptoms may appear in series, especially in adolescents and adults:
- Early Symptoms:
Also known as prodromal symptoms, these symptoms generally do not appear when chickenpox virus attacks children. Prior to the appearance of rashes; adolescents and adults face nausea, loss of appetite, aching muscles, and headache. The early general symptoms are followed by the characteristic rash or oral sores with uneasiness and a low-grade fever which signal the presence of chickenpox virus in body.
- Rashes on Body:
The first sign in children is generally the rash or spots in the oral cavity or the inside of mouth. In people of every age, rash generally begins as small red dots on face, scalp, trunk, upper arms and legs. In further 10 to 12 hours the dots may progress to bumps, blisters, and pustules.
- Blister Stage:
There is intense itching present along with blisters. Blisters may also appear on palms, soles and genital areas. Small, painful and itchy ulcers may form in oral cavity and tonsil areas.
- Umblication Blisters and Pustules:
A depression is formed at the top of each blister and pustule.
- Formation of Scabs:
Vesicular lesions become dry crusts or scabs which stay for four to five days. After completely dry scabs appear and nasal shedding of live virus stops; the disease loses its contagiousness.