MYTHS ABOUT CHICKENPOX

I know everyone of us is familiar with the common ailment of chickenpox.But there are a lot of misconceptions pertaining to the disease doing the rounds.I would like to focus on breaking these myths and providing you with the latest facts on chickenpox -a disease feared among children and adults alike though more with the former.


Background

A highly contagious disease,caused by a virus which goes by the name of Varicella Zoster,it is commonly a disease of children and adults with low immunity.It is a diagnosis of certainty when florid manifestations occur while can be a bit confusing in the early stages where it might be confused with measles or other viral fevers with rash.


Symptoms

  • Blister rashes characteristically defined as "dew drop on rose petal" appearance is a unique finding.It appears approximately 10-14 days after viral exposure.

  • Malaise(generalised fatigue)

  • Fever

  • Bodyaches

  • Cough in some cases.



The rashes are typical in that the initial stage of 'bumpy lesions' progress onto blisters(fluid filled vesicles) and scabs(once they break).A person can have all three stages at the same time and hence can't be considered non-infectious to others until all of them have crusted.




Transmission

Droplet infection as a person coughs or sneezes is the commonest method of spread.However direct contact with the skin vesicles is also highly infectious.


Complications

  • Secondary bacterial infections

  • Pneumonia

  • Encephalitis (inflammation of brain)

Complications are more likely to occur in patients who are severely immunocompromised such as HIV positive patients,senior citizens, pregnant mothers,newborn babies and those who are on long-term steroids and those who haven't been vaccinated.


Myths and Misconceptions about Chickenpox

Chickenpox is one of those diseases with a myriad of myths circulating around it, particularly traditional.

What are some of the misconceptions that clinicians routinely come across?


1.'Do not bathe until all the lesions are crusted'.

Wrong!!!

It is important to keep yourself clean right from the start.Complications develop more in unhygienic environment.However care must be taken to prevent inadvertent rubbing of lesions and their rupture.

So kindly do not wait for all the lesions to crust to take a bath.Traditionally,it has been advised to postpone bathing until after 2 weeks.Now you know why you shouldn't be following that!


2.'There is no effective treatment for chickenpox in modern medicine'.

Wrong again.

Antiviral drugs have been proved to be highly effective in reducing severity and duration of illness.


3.'Vaccination is ineffective for prevention'.

No! Vaccination has a efficiency of nearly 90% and is powerful enough to reduce the severity to a mild form even if disease occurs.


4.'Herpez zoster and Chickenpox are the same'.

No.

Herpez zoster (shingles) is reactivation of the weakened varicella virus remaining in the nerve fibres when the immunity of a person declines,particularly in the elderly or an immunosuppressed individual.They appear as a cluster of painful blisters localised to one area of skin pertaining to the nerve distribution.The pain can be crippling and may last for a few days.

A vaccine is available and is generally prescribed only for people above 50 years.


5.'Aspirin is safe in children'.

Absolutely NOT!

Aspirin use in children is associated with a life-threatening condition called Reye's syndrome so it is better to avoid it straightaway.


Treatment

Acyclovir,the antiviral drug is very effective in the treatment,if instituted early in the disease.It can also be used as a prophylaxis to the close contacts too.Self-isolation of the patient in the infective period is also advised.

If ever any complications become apparent, urgently consult a doctor.


Prevention

Chickenpox vaccination is available for all ages though it is mainly prescribed for children and adults with high risk of exposure like health care workers.

Do consult your physician to understand more about the vaccination schedule and other queries.


So,

Have you had Chickenpox? What were some of the advises and home remedies you found unscientific back then?

Let's discuss!


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