Chickenpox

child patient vaccine vaccination

What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The virus takes about 10 to 20 days to incubate after which an itchy blister rash appears. The disease is common with children but can also affect adults who are not vaccinated or have not been infected before.

What are the symptoms of chickenpox?

  • Headache
  • Itchy rash
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Blisters

Who is at risk of chickenpox?

Most people who are unvaccinated and have not been infected with chickenpox before are at risk of getting infected. When you are infected with chickenpox your body develops resistance to the virus which serves as natural immunity against the virus. These people are at risk of being infected;

  • Children under the age of 2(infants)
  • Adolescent
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weak immune systems due to certain health conditions like Hiv/aids etc.
  • Adults

What are the complications of chickenpox?

Although chickenpox is a mild illness, it can also lead to several complications in adults, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems due to health conditions like Hiv/Aids etc. Some complications of chickenpox include;

  • Bacteria infection of the skin from scratching the itch.
  • Pneumonia 
  • Inflammation of the brain 
  • Reye’s syndrome in children or teenagers who are given Asprin when infected with chickenpox.

How can chickenpox be Treated?

Most times, chickenpox run its course and you get better without the need for any medication. But for some people chickenpox can lead to serious complications as such some drugs would be required to make them feel better. Antiviral drugs are prescribed to help make you feel better quickly reducing the number of days you stay ill from chickenpox. These drugs include;

  • Acyclovir
  • Famciclovir
  • Valaciclovir 
  • Pain medications like Paracetamol and ibuprofen are used to reduce fever and aches.
  • Calamine lotion is used to reduce and soothe the itching.

How can chickenpox be prevented?

chickenpox can primarily be prevented by being vaccinated against it. In Nigeria, the vaccine for chickenpox is Varicella (VAR). The chickenpox vaccine can be administered from the age of 12 months to 15 months. 

Two doses are required to be given with a minimum of 4 weeks apart from each dose. Children from age 7-18 and adults who do not show immunity to chickenpox can equally be vaccinated with two doses of Varicella (VAR).

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