Chickenpox is a very common ailment, especially among children under the age of 12. Symptoms typically go away without any type of treatment. It is caused by the virus varicella-zoster (VZV). Children can be protected from this virus by receiving the chicken pox vaccine somewhere between the ages of 12 and 15.
Chickenpox is very contagious, and anyone who is infected should rest and stay at home until all the symptoms are gone. A person will normally have just one episode of Chickenpox, but the virus can lie dormant in the body and cause a different type of illness later in life called shingles.
The rash associated with the chicken pox begins with many small red bumps that resemble insect bites or pimples. They turn into blisters that are filled with fluid. The blisters will eventually break and leave open sores that will crust over to scabs.
Due to the fact that chicken pox is a self-limited benign virus, antibiotics are not prescribed. Treatment for this illness is usually aimed at treating the symptoms and making the one infected more comfortable. It affects most people during the childhood years and is usually just ‘toughed out', but medications do help to lessen the symptoms and potential scarring. Antibiotics will be prescribed if one of the sores becomes infected, and this is common because kids tend to scratch and pick at the blisters.
The medication acyclovir may sometimes be prescribed for those who are risk at for any complications. This medication may make the illness less severe and must be taken within the first day after the rash appears. It can have side effects, so it is only prescribed when absolutely necessary.
Prescription and over-the-counter antihistamines may also be used to control the itching associated with chicken pox. Both cause drowsiness and may be helpful at night to get sleep. There are some newer medicines available today that control itching but do not cause any drowsiness.
An anti-viral drug called Zovirax may be used in uncomplicated cases of chicken pox. This medication has shown to shorten the period of new lesions forming, lessen the number of lesions and help to heal lesions quicker. Sometimes fever, fatigue, headaches and muscles aches are possible symptoms and can be treated with acetaminophen or Tylenol.