Chickenpox is usually acquired through inhalation of airborne respiratory droplets of an infected host. It is largely a childhood disease with more than 90 percent of cases occurring in childhood. The disease is generally benign and self-limiting in a healthy child. However, there is an increased risk of morbidity in adults and immunocompromised patients.
Clinical Features: Chickenpox is usually diagnosed clinically based on the characteristic rash and successive crops of lesions. The rash of chickenpox is found in all stages of development and healing in affected sites. There is a prodrome of fever, malaise and nausea followed by the characteristic rash of chicken pox. In children, chickenpox usually begins with itchy red lesions. Fluid-filled blisters, also called as vesicles develop over a period of time. The stomach, face, back, hand and legs may be affected. Over a period of time, the blisters, as well as the red rash, heals leaving behind crusts and scabs. New lesions and blisters continue to appear for several days. As a result, all 3 stages of the rash, i.e. bumps, blisters and scabs may be seen in a single patient. The disease is usually self-limiting and resolves over a period of time.
Treatment: For most healthy patients with chicken pox, symptomatic therapy is all that is required.
- Trim the child’s finger nails to minimise scratching.
- Take a bath with warm water and apply moisturising cream.
- Paracetamol can be taken orally in case of fever.
- Calamine lotion and antihistaminics can help in relieving an itch.
- Oral acyclovir or valacyclovir can be given.
Chickenpox is a benign self-limiting disease. It usually resolves without any complications. Complications are sometimes noted in adults and immunocompromised patients. Palliative care and symptomatic treatment go a long way in managing this disease.