Chicken Pox

What causes chicken pox?

Chicken pox is caused by a virus called Varicella Zoster Virus.

Is it contagious (catchy)?
Yes.  Person to person spread occurs by direct contact or through contact with mouth or respiratory secretions.  The most contagious period is being in contact with a person 1-2 days prior to the rash appearing.  Chicken pox is still contagious during the first week as well. It will take about 2 weeks after contact before a rash develops.  Children can go back to day care or school after the pox has scabbed over, which is approximately one week after the onset of the rash.
What are the symptoms of chicken pox?
Usually a high fever is present along with typical rash.  The rash initially is reddish for one to two days, then later develops into fluid filled “dew drops” that scab over in several days.  Occasionally, pneumonia may also be present with symptoms of a cough.  Brain infections have also been known to occur with chicken pox, but are extremely rare.
What is the treatment for chicken pox?
The best treatment is preventing infection by receiving two doses of vaccine prior to age 6 years. The first dose is usually given at age 12 months and is followed by a booster at 4-5 years of age. If your child does come down with chicken pox contact your pediatrician within the first 24 hours and a medication may be prescribed. It can shorten the duration and intensity of symptoms. Otherwise, they key is to prevent complications.  Never give aspirin or aspirin containing products to a child with chicken pox due to the possibility of Reyes’s Syndrome.  Try to prevent your child from scratching or picking at the pox rash.  This may cause a bacterial infection and scarring.  Baking soda baths or lubricating baths with oatmeal in lukewarm water may help the itching.  Shake lotions gently applied to the pox marks may be helpful.  Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used for fever reduction.
When to call your child’s pediatrician?
Call your physician if any of the following symptoms occur:
·         If fever above 102 degrees Fahrenheit persists longer than 48 hours.
·         If your child is vomiting repeatedly.
·         If any “pox marks” with surrounding redness greater than the size of a quarter (approximately on inch in diameter) develop, or if any pox marks look infected.
·         If your child is lethargic, difficult to arouse or loses balance easily when walking.
·         If you are uncertain whether the rash is a chicken pox rash or if you would like your child to receive the antiviral medication.
What should I do if my new baby is exposed to chicken pox?
Normal full term infants exposed after birth to chicken pox do not have any greater risk of complications than older children. If the child’s mother is immune to chicken pox then the infant is protected for the first several months of age.
Will my child contract shingles if he never catches chicken pox?
No.  If you never get chicken pox you will never get “shingles”