Chicken pox also known as varicella, is an acute viral and highly contagious disease that causes an itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters. It mainly affects children under age of 2, but adults can get it, too. The main sign is a super-itchy skin rash with red blisters.
Additionally, over the course of several days, the blisters pop and start to leak. Then they crust and scab over before finally healing. Furthermore, symptoms appear within 10 to 21 days after you’ve been in contact with someone who has the virus. Most people recover in about 2 weeks.
Chicken pox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. For most people, chicken pox is a mild disease. But in severe cases, the blisters can spread to your nose, mouth, eyes, and even genitals. Similarly, most people who have had chicken pox or have been vaccinated against the disease are immune to it.
The varicella zoster virus spreads both through the air (by coughing and sneezing) and by direct contact with mucus, saliva (spit), or fluid from the blisters. Chicken pox is contagious from about 2 days before the rash starts until all the blisters are crusted over.
Signs and symptoms of chicken pox
The first sign is usually a general feeling of being unwell. That’s normally followed by these symptoms:
- Oral sores
- Loss of appetite
- Easily gets tired
- Small red dots on the face, scalp, torso, upper arms and legs; progressing over 10–12 hours to small bumps, blisters and pustules.
- Intense itching is usually present.
- Small ulcers which can be painful or itchy or both
It is normally a mild disease although it can be serious and can lead to complications or death, especially in high-risk people. Complications include:
- Bacterial infections of the skin, soft tissues, bones, joints or bloodstream (sepsis)
- Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
- Toxic shock syndrome