What Is Chicken Pox?
Chickenpox is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus and is extremely contagious. Chickenpox commonly affects children who are less than 15 years (mostly between the ages 5-9 years) of age. However, adults and infants can get chickenpox too and the incidence of the disease is very severe. In children the disease is usually quite mild; however, if the chickenpox is severe, the rashes can spread to your eyes, mouth, nose, and genitals.
The main signs of chickenpox are the appearance of red blisters and extremely itchy skin rash. The blisters become filled with fluid, then they burst and begin to leak. The blisters then form a crust and turn into scabs before they start to heal.
The symptoms of chickenpox usually appear 10-21 days after you have come in contact with a person suffering from the disease and it takes around 2 weeks for a person to recover from chickenpox. Chickenpox commonly occurs during winter and spring.
What Are The Symptoms Of Chicken Pox?
The most common symptoms of chickenpox are:
Before the appearance of the rash
- Malaise or a general feeling of being unwell
- Fever, muscle ache
- Nausea, loss of appetite
When the rash appears
The symptoms described above are usually followed by:
- A rash that may be in spots or cover the entire body.
- Spots that appear in clusters on the limbs, face, stomach, and chest.
- First, small red spots appear that itch a lot, which then develop into blisters that itch a lot too.
- After around 48 hours of the appearance of the blisters, they start clouding over and drying up and a crust develops over the blisters.
- You are very contagious until all the blisters on the body have developed scabs.
- It takes around 7-14 days for the crusts or scabs to fall off. During the entire cycle, new spots may appear, which also follow the cycle of being itchy, drying and crusting.
Some other symptoms may occur if the chickenpox is very severe:
- The blisters or spots become red and extremely painful.
- You have difficulty in breathing.
What Are The Causes Of Chicken Pox?
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus and most of the times, the infection is caused due to contact with another person who has chickenpox. The chickenpox virus can spread via:
- Coughing, saliva
- Sneezing, contact with the fluid oozing from the blisters
If you have not been earlier exposed to the chickenpox causing virus, you can have increased risk of contracting the virus if:
- You are less than 12 years of age.
- If you have had contact with a person suffering from chickenpox.
- If your immune system is weakened due to medications or illness.
- If you are an adult who’s living with children who may get chickenpox.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Chicken Pox?
- Wear lightweight, soft and loose clothes that do not irritate the skin.
- Apply unscented lotion to soothe the rashes.
- Drink plenty of fluids and water and stay hydrated.
- If your child has chickenpox, then keep your child at home until the rashes have disappeared and blisters have dried up.
- Keep the fingernails short and clean at all times to prevent scratching the blisters.
- Keep the chickenpox patient away from others who are at risk of contracting the disease as chickenpox is highly contagious.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after touching the patient and also the things used by the patient such as bed linen, clothes, etc. with anti-bacterial soap.
- Make sure that the patient’s room is cool and airy as heat and sweat can worsen the itching.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Chicken Pox?
- Avoid scratching the blisters, as this can cause scarring and also cause the rashes to spread.
- Avoid using medicated soap when suffering from chickenpox as this can irritate the skin.
- Avoid giving aspirin to a child suffering from chickenpox, as this can cause Reyes Syndrome later in life that affects the liver and the brain.
- Avoid foods that are too hot in temperature, as they can irritate the sores in the mouth and throat.
What Are The Best Foods For Chicken Pox?
- Foods rich in vitamin A, i.e. colored and green vegetables and fruits are effective to heal the scars on the skin.
- Foods that are rich in zinc such as beans, mushroom soup, corn, asparagus and roasted pumpkin seeds help to improve your appetite when you’re suffering from chickenpox and also helps to boost the immune system.
- Having foods rich in magnesium and calcium like soy milk, beans, whole grain cereal, whole wheat bread, etc. help to reduce the symptoms of chickenpox and reduce restlessness and lack of sleep.
- Eat foods that provide essential nutrients to the body, are easy to digest and provide cooling to the body such as banana, rice, plain toast, etc.
- Increase consumption of fruits, as they provide vitamins and are also hydrating such as apples, grapes, melons, bananas, etc. You can also drink fresh fruit juices or blend these fruits and drink as a milkshake or smoothie.
- Tender coconut water is wonderful when you have chickenpox as it provides the body with all the essential vitamins and minerals, helps to boost immunity, keeps acidity away and also keeps the body cool during chickenpox.
- Try to eat oil-free, boiled vegetables such as boiled carrots, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes and cabbage as they are beneficial during chickenpox.
- Yogurt contains calcium and probiotics and is a good source of lysine too, which are very helpful when you’re having chickenpox. It helps in healing the skin.
What Are The Worst Foods For Chicken Pox?
- Avoid meat and eggs when having chickenpox as they worsen the condition.
- Avoid spicy and oily foods, as they increase the inflammation and make the sores worse and feel even sicker during chickenpox.
- Avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugars such as white bread, white pasta, raw nuts and seeds that have not been soaked, as these slow down the healing process.
- Avoid foods rich in saturated fats such as full-fat dairy products as they aggravate the inflammation in the body, slow the healing process and make the condition of chickenpox worse. If you feel like eating frozen foods to cool yourself, opt for low-fat or fat-free foods like frozen yogurt, low-fat ice cream or ice pops.
- Avoid citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, pineapples, etc. and the juice of citrus fruits, as these foods can irritate the sores that may develop in the mouth and cause a lot of pain.
- Avoid seasonings that are too salty, spicy or contain pepper as they will irritate the mouth and throat.
- Avoid foods that have a high arginine content, as arginine, an amino acid promotes the replication of the chickenpox virus and make the condition more severe. Avoid foods such as peanuts, chocolates, tree nuts, raisins, peanut butter, etc.
- Avoid processed foods such as cereals, bread, chips, pastries, cookies, crackers, cakes, fries, etc., as they contain harmful trans fats and they worsen the condition of chickenpox.
What Are The Medicines For Chicken Pox?
What Are The Tips To Manage Chicken Pox?
There are several home remedies that can help to relieve the symptoms of chickenpox, reduce the irritation caused by the sores and also help to hasten the healing process. Some home remedies you can try:
- You can have lukewarm oatmeal baths to soothe the chickenpox rashes.
- Calamine lotion can help to soothe the irritation caused by the rashes and sores.
- Adding a spoon of baking soda in the bath water can also help to reduce the itchiness and rashes.
- Spreading neem leaves on the bed can help to reduce the burning and itching. You can also add neem leaves to the bath water as it will help to soothe the inflammation.
- You can add brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast, which is high in lysine in your yogurt or soup, which helps to boost the healing process.
- Rosehip powder or syrup or blackberries, elderberries and Acerola cherries are rich in vitamin C and helps in faster healing.
- Garlic is a wonderful preventative and a natural antibiotic and has fantastic healing powers, crush and add to your recipes or soup before serving.
- Manuka honey has antiviral and antibacterial properties that help to reduce the symptoms of chickenpox.
- Coconut oil has antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties that help to reduce the symptoms of chickenpox and heal faster. The oil can be taken orally or used in cooking.