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Health & Fitness

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Chickenpox is a disease that mainly affects children and is usually a mild illness. It is more severe when it occurs in adults. The illness begins with a fever, headache, fatigue, feeling unwell and an itchy, generalised skin rash which changes from small red lumps to blisters to scabs over a few days. Most children recover quickly with no ongoing problems. However, chickenpox can cause skin infections, pneumonia and inflammation of the brain. In some cases the illness can lead to death. Chickenpox during pregnancy may be a risk to an unborn child.

What is chickenpox?

Chicken pox is caused by the varicella virus or varicella zoster virus. Chicken pox is highly contagious and is spread easily through coughing and sneezing. In later stages, through contact with the fluid from the broken blisters of the rash.




Symptoms don't tend to show until 2-3 weeks after contact.In children, chickenpox usually starts with feeling tired and fatigue, as well as a fever and swollen glands. This is soon followed by the outbreak of a rash over the next 3-5 days.At first, the rash appears as red spots, which develop into small blisters over the chest, back, tummy or face. These soon appear on the rest of the body, and might even occur in the mouth, ears, genitals or eyes.The blisters are extremely itchy and new ones form as older ones scab and dry up. The scabs take several weeks to fall off. The rash doesn’t leave any scars unless the blisters or scabs are scratched, or if the sores become infected.

There’s no cure or specific treatment for chickenpox. However, gauze pads soaked in bicarbonate of soda and water that are then placed over the sores can calm the itch for a while. Creams, such as calamine lotion, might also reduce the itchiness. If itching is unbearable, doctors are able to prescribe an antihistamine medicine or tablets.


What causes chickenpox?

In Australia, a single dose of a varicella vaccine is required at 18 months of age. Children aged 10–13 years are also offered 1 dose of varicella vaccine as part of a ‘catch-up’ program delivered in schools if they do not have a history of chickenpox or previous vaccination.




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