In most cases, they affect children between 5 and 10 years old . Usually, the infection is benign to children and heals in just over a week, but it can be more aggressive in adulthood.
What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a contagious infectious disease belonging to exanthematous diseases caused by a DNA virus, the Varicella zoster virus (VZV). With an incubation period of about 2 or 3 weeks before the onset of symptoms, it is characterized by the appearance of a maculo-papular exanthema (the so-called rash ), fever and general malaise.
Especially in the early stages of the rash, chickenpox is transmitted by an infected individual through droplets which can be emitted through coughing or sneezing or even through direct contact with a chicken pox or zoster lesion. Infected people can transmit chickenpox already a day or two before the onset of the rash and the contagiousness could persist even until the appearance of the crusts.
Once the first red spots (the macules ) have appeared , these, at first flat, become in relief (the papules ), then they almost immediately turn into vesicles , i.e. they take the appearance of very small liquid-filled bubbles distributed throughout the body, but above all on the face, on the scalp and on the back. In the worst cases, vesicles also occur inside the eyes, oral mucosa and vagina.
As soon as they appear, the vesicles have a light color and their content is clear, but within a day, the liquid becomes cloudy and the vesicles take on a more whitish appearance. The lesions also appear at different times, even after a few days from each other: the so-called “starry sky” which then indicates the different stages of the disease’s evolution.
The final phase is that in which the vesicles change and become crusts , which, after 7-20 days, will spontaneously detach without leaving scars. It is obvious, therefore, that at this stage you have to be very careful so that your children do not begin to remove the crusts before time, then causing small permanent scars.
In children, chickenpox has no complications , while in teenagers and adults, complications can occur. The most frequent are:
- bacterial superinfections, the blisters turn into purulent pustules and there is a greater risk that scars remain afterwards
Chickenpox symptoms and how to recognize it?
It will not be difficult for you to understand that your child has contracted chickenpox. Above all, then, if in the school he attends there are – especially in the change of season from winter to spring – cases of this disease, it is good that you also expect it in your home. In any case, always refer to your pediatrician.
The first signs that will appear will then be the classic bubbles , which will mostly appear on the head, face and trunk. There may also be fever, headache and in any case a general feeling of being unwell.
Later, as we have said, the red and itchy blisters will turn into watery blisters and pustules and then into crusts. In this final phase, it would be useful to remind your children not to fiddle with the scabs and not to drop them ahead of time , on pain of scarring for life.
In summary, the most common chickenpox symptoms are:
- skin rash that turns into watery bubbles and pustules
- vesicles that tend to dry out
- severe itching
- fever and general malaise
Chickenpox therapy and remedies to relieve itching
Typically, therapy is only symptomatic. To alleviate the itching, a series of expedients can be used such as sprinkling the skin with 1% mentholated talc , while many pediatricians also provide for the administration of antihistamines. If fever is high, antipyretic drugs based on acetisalicylic acid (e.g. paracetamol) are generally not recommended, because they would increase the risk of Reye’s syndrome.In order not to be gripped by the itch, wear cotton linen, keep the nails of your hands clean and short and use neutral and delicate detergents with good INCI .
Other natural remedies to relieve itching:
- baking soda , to be used diluted with water for the bath or to be used for sponging on the most affected areas
- rice starch , for soothing baths with lukewarm water or to be used to prepare a sort of “dough” to be put on the bubbles that itch more
- oat bath
- calendula , calendula oil, talcum powder, calendula ointment or mother tincture diluted 50% with water, with anti-inflammatory and soothing properties
- cold-pressed sweet almond oil , with emollient action
- vitamin C , which supports the immune system and facilitates healing. Here are the foods that contain the most.