Varicella or “chickenpox” is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is highly contagious and causes an itchy, uncomfortable rash. Before the chickenpox vaccine was available almost everybody developed the disease during childhood. While in most people chickenpox is relatively mild it can cause serious disease in certain populations and lead to complications. Because of this, it’s recommended that most people receive the chickenpox vaccine.
WHO IS AT RISK?
The chickenpox virus is highly contagious and can be spread through airborne droplets (such as when somebody coughs or sneezes) or close contact with an infected individual. You are at risk to develop chickenpox if you have never had the disease and have not been vaccinated against the infection. Most people who have had the disease or receive the vaccination are immune to the virus.
The chickenpox infection generally lasts about seven to ten days. The first phase of the illness is characterized by flu-like symptoms such as fever, malaise, headaches and fatigue. The rash generally appears one to two days after the onset of flu-like symptoms. At first, the rash is made up of spreading red bumps. The bumps eventually turn into blisters that break and weep fluid. After several days the blisters crust over and form scabs. A person is considered contagious from two days before the rash forms until all the blisters have crusted over.
DIAGNOSIS AND CHICKENPOX TREATMENT
Chickenpox is diagnosed when the doctor examines the characteristic rash. In healthy children the disease usually resolves without complications. For people who have a higher risk for severe disease or complications antiviral medications can be prescribed to shorten the course of infection and decrease its severity.
HOW PLUSHCARE WORKS
1. Video chat with a doctor and send in pictures of your rash.
2. The doctor can tell you what the rash is, and prescribe any needed medicines.
3. Pick up your prescription at your pharmacy, and even get a signed doctor's note for school or work.