1.What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a very infectious illness caused by a virus called herpes zoster. Most people get chickenpox in childhood, when it is a mild infection causing a rash. Once you have had chickenpox, you cannot catch it a second time. This is called being immune to it (your body produces antibodies, which are the body’s defence system against infection).
2.What are the symptoms of chickenpox?
The symptoms of chickenpox take between 10 days to 3 weeks to appear. This is the incubation time – the time from when you catch it to when the symptoms start to show.The first signs are fever and feeling unwell. This is followed by the formation of watery blisters which can appear anywhere over the body. The blisters itch. After a few days the blisters burst, crust over and then heal. This may take up to 2 weeks.
3. Is shingles the same as chickenpox?
Shingles is related to chickenpox but the symptoms are different. After you have had chickenpox, the virus stays in your body and can become active again later and this time it causes shingles. Shingles is a patch of itchy blisters on the skin along a nerve root that dry out and crust over in a few days. It can be very painful.
4. How do you catch chickenpox?
You catch chickenpox from someone who currently has it. The chicken pox virus spreads mainly by touching or breathing in virus particles that come from chicken pox blisters. A person is contagious from 2 days before the rash appears to when all the blisters have crusted over. During this time, you can catch chickenpox by being:
● in close contact with them
● face to face with them for at least 5 minutes
● in the same room with them for at least 15 minutes.
5. What if I come into contact with chickenpox when I am pregnant?
If you have had chickenpox, you are immune and there is nothing to worry about. You do not need to do anything. If you have never had chickenpox, or are not sure, see your doctor as soon as Possible. You can have a blood test to find out if you are immune. If you develop a rash in pregnancy always contact your doctor.
6. Are there any serious complications of chicken pox?
Complications can occur, but not common in healthy people. People who can get serious infections are infants or adults with weak immunity or pregnant women. Serious complications of chicken pox are- bacterial infection, pneumonia, blood stream infection or dehydration.
7. Can I take the vaccine after being exposed to chicken pox?
Yes, one can take the chicken pox vaccine within 3-5 days of being exposed to chicken pox virus. You will need 2 vaccines atleast 28 days apart.
8. Who should not take the chicken pox vaccine?
Those with history or allergic reaction to a previous dose, or those who are moderately or severely ill due to any other reason should wait till they recover. Pregnant women also should not take the chicken pox vaccine.
9. How do I get rid of the marks of the chicken pox blisters? Are these permanent?
The marks caused by chicken pox blisters are not serious and will fade away with time. You do not need any special medication to erase the marks. With time, the marks will fade away and disappear on their own in a few weeks.