Chickenpox is a highly-contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It often affects children, but adults can get it, too. The telltale sign is a very itchy skin rash with red blisters. After about a week, these blisters pop and start to leak. Afterwards, these blisters crust before healing completely.
Symptoms appear in 10 to 20 days after contact with an infected person. Most cases heal in no longer than two weeks and they are usually mild but, in some cases, the blisters can spread to the nose, mouth, eyes and even the genitals. Among the symptoms are:
– Fever of more than 38 degrees (c)
– Pain and discomfort
– Loss of appetite
Children under 2 years are most susceptible to infection. In fact, 90% of cases are young kids, but the infection can attack kids and adults of any age. You’re more likely to get it if:
– You’ve never had chickenpox before
– You haven’t been vaccinated
– You work at a school or daycare center
– You live with children
Chickenpox can spread very easily by breathing in the particles that come from the blisters or by touching anything that has been in contact with them. It is very highly contagious from 1-2 days before the rash appears until the blisters dry up and scab off.
The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the vaccine. Children who haven’t been sick should get two doses: the first at age 12-15 months and the second at 4-6 years. People over 13 years who haven’t been vaccinated should get two doses at least 28 days apart.