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The varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is the etiologic agent of the clinical syndrome of chickenpox (varicella). Zoster, a different clinical entity, is caused by reactivation of VZV after primary infection. VZV is a double-stranded DNA virus included in the Alphaherpesvirinae subfamily. Chickenpox is largely a childhood disease, with more than 90% of cases occurring in children younger than 10 years. The disease is benign in the healthy child, whereas increased morbidity is seen in adults and in patients who are immunocompromised .


Chickenpox is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which is part of the herpesvirus family. Chickenpox, which occurs most often in the late winter and early spring, is very contagious - if exposed to an infected family member, about 80% to 90% of those in a household who haven't had chickenpox will get it. Chickenpox is a very contagious viral disease that causes an itchy outbreakof skin blisters. Chickenpox is usually a mild disease. However, in adults and children with weakened immune systems, chickenpox can cause serious complications and even death. The affected child or adult may develop hundreds of itchy, fluid-filled blisters that burst and form crusts. The blisters are small and sit on an area of red skin that can be anywhere from the size of a pencil eraser to the size of a dime. The rash tends to appear first on the upper chest and back but it usually spreads over the entire body.


Anyone can get chickenpox but it mainly affects children. Chickenpox is extremely contagious, and can be spread by direct contact, droplet transmission, and airborne transmission. It most often spreads through the respiratory tract, such as mucous membranes of the mouth and nose. A person who has chickenpox can pass it to someone else by coughing or sneezing. When the chickenpox patient coughs, sneezes, laughs, and even talks, tiny drops come out of the mouth and nose. These drops are full of the chickenpox virus. It's easy for someone else to breathe in these drops or get them on his or her hands. After infection, the virus stays in the body for life. Although people cannot get chickenpox twice, the same virus causes shingles. A person with shingles can spread the virus to an adult or child who has not had chickenpox, and that person can develop chickenpox . People incubating chickenpox are not infectious immediately and only become so from about two days before the rash breaks out until about five days after.

Causes of Chickenpox / Varicella

The varicella-zoster virus, one of the herpes viruses, causes chickenpox infection. The same virus that causes chickenpox also causes shingles. Chickenpox is caused by the varicella virus. It may be 14 to 16 days after exposure before the child gets sick. Once someone is infected, the virus usually incubates (spreads without causing symptoms) for 14 to 16 days before a rash appears (although it can take anywhere from 10 days to 21 days). A person may be contagious as soon as 10 days after being exposed to the virus, even though a rash isn't yet visible. The person is contagious from one to two days before the rash develops until all of the blisters have dried and crusted over.

  • Herpes Zoster Virus
  • Contact with broken chickenpox blisters
  • Inhaling airborne droplets
  • Poor immune system

Signs & Symptoms of Chickenpox / VARICELLA :-

Chickenpox typically produces a mild fever and an itchy outbreak of blisters on the scalp, face, and torso. The blisters come in waves, with new crops developing as old ones burst. New blisters stop forming within about five days. These include fatigue, mild headache, fever, chills, and muscle or joint aches. The rash emerges as raised red bumps that turn to teardrop-shaped blisters that are extremely itchy. Small, itchy, reddish spots on the skin surface then form. This rash often appears on the face and scalp first and then spreads to the chest, arms and legs. The spots go on to form raised papules (a pimple-like skin rash). These can develop into small blisters called vesicles. The vesicles are filled with clear fluid. The blisters dry and become scabs in 4 to 5 days. The blisters occur in successive crops that can produce hundreds of scabs. An infected person is contagious from 1 to 2 days before the rash appears and until all blisters have formed scabs. Your child can give the disease to others until all the sores are crusted over. This can take about 1 week. It takes about 2 weeks for all the scabs to fall off.

Complications from Chickenpox / VARICELLA:-

Although most people think that chickenpox is always a mild disease, deaths from chickenpox continue to occur in the United States . In 1997, three young adults died from complications of chickenpox. All three were infected by unvaccinated pre-schoolers.

Although most people recover from chickenpox uneventfully or with a few minor scars, a small percentage suffer more serious complications. Those at highest risk for complications are newborns, persons with weakened immune systems, and adults. Chickenpox can also lead to severe problems in pregnant women, causing stillbirths, birth defects, or infection of the newborn during childbirth. An ear infection develops in about 1 in 20 children with chickenpox

Cellulitis (a skin infection from bacteria) is by far the most common complication in children. It may leave scarring, especially if the child scratches the lesions. Many cases of necrotizing fasciitis ("flesh-eating disease") in children occur as a complication of infection entering through the chickenpox lesions. An awkward problem occurs when chickenpox blisters appear in the mouth, throat, or anus. Lesions in these places are very uncomfortable. If the rash gets near the eyes, consult your doctor.

There is a 30% death rate in newborns whose mothers develop chickenpox a few days before or after birth.


Chickenpox can usually be diagnosed by symptoms. A blood test is available to confirm the diagnosis if necessary. Chickenpox is almost always diagnosed on the basis of the telltale rash. Blood and laboratory tests to identify the VZV virus are available for use in questionable cases but are rarely necessary.

Blood and laboratory tests - several tests are available that may help confirm the diagnosis of chickenpox, including:

  • Skin smear to infer the presence of chickenpox virus by staining
  • Skin smear to detect chickenpox viral proteins using immunofluorescence
  • Skin culture to grow the chickenpox virus in the lab
  • Blood test to detect the presence and measure the amounts of antibodies to chickenpox virus


The prescription drug Zovirax (acyclovir) is very effective for shortening the duration of chickenpox symptoms. It is somewhat controversial as to when to use the drug. Most experts agree that, for children with chickenpox infections that involve the lungs and/or brain, these medications should be used. For less severe infections, some doctors recommend use of these medications while others don't. Persons infected with chickenpox should avoid exposing others who might be at risk of getting the disease. People with symptoms should stay home until 1 week after the skin blisters appear or until the blisters become dry. Adults who have not had the disease should also be vaccinated, as should anyone who is a close relative or contact of those who are at high risk for complications.

  • Trim your child's fingernails or cover her hands with socks or mittens to keep her from scratching, which could lead to infection as well as to possible scarring.
  • To ease itching, add a handful of oatmeal or baking soda to bathwater; apply cool, wet towels to the skin and allow them to dry.
  • Use Catnip tea sweetened with molasses. It reduces fever.
  • Make a tea with:
    2 tbs. of queen of the meadow.
    1 tsp. of coltsfoot leaves.
    2 tsp. of marigold flowers.
    2 cups of boiling water.
  • Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. Also, drink fresh juices.
  • Fill the bath tub with cool water and add ginger to it, take a 30 minute bath. This helps stop the itching.
  • Dissolve 1/2 tsp. salt in a glass of warm water and use as a gargle to ease mouth sores, or rinse with a combination of warm water and hydrogen peroxide.
  • Application of Sandalwood oil ( and not the paste ) right from the first day of appearance of rash till the fall of scabs helps prevent the pox marks. 
  • Honey smeared over the skin will help in healing the disease.
Lukewarm water baths with Neem leaves helps in relieving itching

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