There is a popular myth about Chickenpox: You had to have it at least once in your lifetime. Before we dive into the truthfulness of that myth, here is an introduction:
Also called Varicella, Chickenpox, is a disease caused by the varicella zoster virus. Years ago, this disease used to be inevitable for children but these days, it is less common thanks to a vaccine introduced in the U.S. in 1995 to combat the disease. While it’s true that the disease is usually mild in most children, it can be serious for some kids, teens, and adults.
Here are 5 facts you probably didn’t know about Chickenpox:
It doesn’t occur twice
You read that right. While not everyone will have chickenpox in their lifetime, it doesn’t occur a second time after the first. Once a person is treated from chickenpox, the virus that causes it becomes inactive, albeit remaining in the body.
This disease is airborne and can be spread easily from an infected person. As such, it is important to always cover your mouth or nose when you feel the need to sneeze or cough. It doesn’t matter if you are infected or not. Touching the fluid from chickenpox blisters could also infect an uninfected person so, be careful of exposure while caring for an infected person.
A person with chickenpox is contagious from one to two days before the rash until all of his the blisters have formed scabs. If exposed to the varicella zoster virus, it takes between 10 to 21 days to develop chickenpox. Infected people need to stay away from people until the rash has completely crusted over, which is usually around day six or seven of the rash.
Itchy red rash
Chickenpox makes a grand entrance and a golden exit. It always shows everyone it is around and also tells them it’s leaving while still showing its face. The disease appears as an extremely itchy, blistery red rash that typically starts on the face before spreading to the rest of the body. Blisters pop up anywhere ranging from the mouth to the eyelids and even the genital area. The chickenpox rash starts as red bumps, graduates to fluid-filled blisters and progresses to scabs. Other symptoms include fever, headache, and fatigue which tends to be for five days.
Usually mild but can be very serious
For most healthy children, chickenpox is more of a nuisance than a danger. In some cases however, it can lead to serious complications such as dehydration, pneumonia, bleeding problems, encephalitis (brain swelling), bacterial skin infections, toxic shock syndrome, and bone and joint infections. Certain groups, including infants, teens, adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems due to illness or medications, are at higher risk of complications from chickenpox.
The most effective way to protect your child against chickenpox is to have them vaccinated. In virtually 100% of cases, it will prevent serious illness in otherwise healthy individuals. Its total success rate is between 80% and 85%, which means that between 15-20% percent of vaccinated people may still get a milder case of chickenpox. They’ll typically have fewer blisters, mild or no fever, and few other symptoms, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Have you ever had chickenpox? How was it? Share other facts you might know in the comments, let’s talk!