Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection in which a person develops extremely itchy blisters all over the body and it is common childhood disease caused by a virus in the herpes family of viruses called the varicella virus. The varicella virus can remain in the body for decades and become active again in adults, causing herpes zoster (shingles). Shingles involves the occurrence of painful skin sores along the distribution of nerves across the trunk or face.
Sources of Chickenpox infection
• Direct contact with skin sores or breathing in the varicella virus by being around someone with chickenpox who is coughing or sneezing
• A person with chickenpox can spread the virus for 1 to 2 days before the rash appears and until all the blisters have formed scabs.
There are several things that can be done at home to help relieve the symptoms and prevent skin infections. Calamine lotion and colloidal oatmeal baths may help relieve some of the itching. Keeping fingernails trimmed short may help prevent skin infections caused by scratching blisters.
Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is one of the most infectious viruses; 80-90% of exposed seronegative persons will develop varicella disease (chickenpox). In the Netherlands, 49% of 2-years-old children have had chickenpox. This seroprevalence increases to 93% for 5-years-olds, and 98% for those over 6 years of age (De Melker et al., 2006). The vast majority of the cases occurs during childhood and has only mild symptoms: fever and generalized pruritic rash. The most frequent complication is bacterial superinfection of the skin, lungs or bones.