Chickenpox is a common and extremely contagious viral infection which is spread by direct contact or from breathing in germs. It is caused by the virus Varicella zosta, the same virus which causes shingles. Most children contract chickenpox by the age of ten. One bout usually give lifetime immunity however it is possible although rare to catch it a second time.
Incubation period - symptoms usually begin 7-21 days after exposure to the virus and are typically a headache, tiredness, runny nose and slight cough, loss of appetite and a fever.
This is then followed 24-48 hours later with an itchy rash of spots. The spots tend to start on the chest, back or face and then spread all over the body. They first appear as a flat, reddish rash which then become small pimples, filled with fluid like water blisters. These blisters leak and form a crust which then begins to dry, scab over and finally heal. Eruptions continue in cycles lasting from three days to one week. The blisters and crusts are infectious and itchy and scratching them can lead to bacterial infection and scarring (see below). Once the scabs have gone the individual is no longer infectious. Chickenpox usually runs it's course in two weeks or less in otherwise healthy children.
Adults who contract the infection tend to have much more severe cases than children do. Potentially serious complications, such as pneumonia or encephalitis (an infection of the brain), can arise for some people especially newborns, adults and those with an impaired immune system. Infected children should be kept away from the elderly, newborn babies and pregnant women who have not had chickenpox. If a newborn baby who has come into contact with an infected person shows any signs of illness see your GP or contact emergency services immediately.
Once chickenpox has cleared the virus then lies dormant in the body, often in the spinal cord and nerve ganglia, until such a time that it may be activated again, usually by a weakened immune system and this is what causes shingles, an extremely painful condition.
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DIETARY & LIFESTYLE ADVICE:
- Keep well hydrated and drink freshly made juices and vegetable soups until the fever drops
- Introduce simple foods like mashed banana, avocados, yoghurt etc when the appetite returns - do not use cooked or processed foods
- Do not give cow's milk or formula to a feverish baby/infant. This can worsen an illness. Instead give pure juices diluted with filtered/bottled water, rice milk and plenty of quality water until the fever has passed
- Keep out of direct sunlight and keep interior areas dimly lit - bright light worsens the condition
- Try not to let your child scratch. Keep nails short and clean. Use scratch mittens if necessary.
- Give plenty of cool baths - run hot water through a muslin bag (or a stocking) of uncooked oats, massaging the bag to encourage the creamy substance to come out of the oats. Add cold water to the bath to cool the temperature. This helps reduce itching.
- Keep children away from others who have chickenpox as re-infection can worsen the condition. Family members should have limited contact with each other
- Chamomile tea is very soothing for reduces irritation. For children over the age of 6 give a dessertspoon of the tea four times daily and for children below the age of six give just one teaspoon four times daily
Once the skin has healed, if there are marks on the skin massage a little Rosa Mosqueta Oil directly into the areas daily - it is effective at improving skin tissue.
There is much that can be done to boost the immune system during illness -
If you have any questions at all with regard to this information please contact us
NB. This information is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any diseases or medical conditions. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.