Since vaccination for chickenpox started in the United States, cases have fallen by 90% according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that fewer children are at risk of serious complications such as:
Though it’s a common childhood disease, chickenpox can still have serious consequences. In rare cases, an untreated infection could result in death, particularly in adults or those with weak immune systems.
Dr 2 Kids, Smita Tandon, MD, can confirm chickenpox with a simple exam and can offer extended care your child requires.
Healthy children usually experience a mild course of illness that follows a predictable pattern. The most common five symptoms are:
In the days leading up to the outbreak of a chickenpox rash, you may notice that your child is tired and moody. They may complain of not feeling well in general and as a parent you may sense that something isn’t right.
Before the rash begins, you may suspect other infections or illnesses. Along with the fatigue, headaches are a common complaint that children of speaking age can express. These symptoms may precede the outbreak by a few days.
Fever typically accompanies chickenpox. Usually, it’s modest, but if the fever tops 102℉, seek urgent medical attention, especially if it’s accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness, or disorientation.
Your child’s appetite may suffer ahead of and into the rash phase of chickenpox. If your child begins to vomit and it’s accompanied by fever or other symptoms, medical attention is also recommended.
Once the rash arrives, it goes through three stages. Papules, pink or red raised bumps, arrive first and develop over a few days. Vesicles are small blisters filled with fluid that form in short order before breaking and leaking their fluid. Finally, crusts and scabs begin to form, covering the blisters as they heal.
New papules can continue to form for several days, so your child could have all three stages of the rash occurring at once. Sometimes, even a healthy child can develop a severe rash that covers their entire body, including uncomfortable sores on their anus and genitalia.
Chickenpox is highly contagious and it can be dangerous if spread to an adult who hasn’t had the virus before. People who are immunocompromised are also at risk of a chickenpox infection.
Your child can spread the disease for about 48 hours prior to developing the rash, and they remain contagious until all blisters have broken and scabbed over.
For a healthy child, chickenpox is typically left to run its course and no treatment is needed, apart from perhaps an antihistamine to relieve itching. Children with an elevated risk of complications may be prescribed antiviral medications.
If your child is exposed to chickenpox but has not yet been vaccinated, Dr. Tandon may recommend the vaccine to prevent or reduce the intensity of the infection. This may be effective up to five days after exposure.
Complications from chickenpox are treated on a case by case basis depending on the nature of the complication. If a problem arises or if you want to confirm that your child has chickenpox, contact Dr 2 Kids, Smita Tandon, MD, by phone or online to schedule an appointment.