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Chickenpox, symptoms, causes and diagnosis

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What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox is also known as varicella. It is generally identified by itchy red blisters that show up all over the body. It generally affects children. This is a condition caused by a virus. In general, it is not seen again after the infection happened once.


The most common symptom is an itchy rash. The infection will remain in your body for 7 to 21 days and only after that the rash and other symptoms will develop. It can be contagious to other people up to 48 hours before the skin rash appear.

In case of non-rash condition, the symptoms may last a few days. Such symptoms include

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite

First you will experience these symptoms and then after 1 to 2 days, the classic rash symptoms will begin to show. This rash will go through a three-phase system till it is over. These three phases include-

  • First, red or pink bumps will appear all over your body
  • These bumps will become blisters. The blisters are filled with fluid that leaks.
  • The bombs will become crusty and then they will scab over. After that, they will begin to heal.

All the bumps will not show up at the same time. Some will be at phase 3 when newborns will continue appearing. It may be contagious until all of them have scabbed over.

The crusty scabbed areas will ultimately fall of. The bumps will disappear completely within 7 to 14 days.

Causes of chickenpox

The cause of chickenpox has been identified as the virus varicella-zoster virus (VZV). In most of the cases, the infection happens through contact with an infected person. It is contagious to people surrounding the patient for 1 to 2 days before the blisters appear. The virus can stay contagious till all the blisters have crusted over.

This virus generally spreads through the following media-

  • saliva
  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • contact with fluid from the blisters

Risk factor

There are some people who are at a higher risk of developing chickenpox. If you were somehow exposed to the virus through previous active infection or vaccination, the risk of developing it again reduces dramatically. It is also possible to pass on such immunity from a mother to her newborn. Such immunity can last for three months from birth.

The risk of developing chickenpox increases in certain conditions. Let’s find out what these conditions are.

  • If you have had contact with an infected person very recently.
  • You are under 12 years of age.
  • Your immune system is compromised because of illness or medicine.
  • You have spent time in a school or childcare facility.
  • You are an adult living with children.

Since these are the people who are at a higher risk of developing chickenpox, more care should be taken in case of these people. Proper methods to reduce the risk will definitely help to reduce the actual infection of chickenpox.

Diagnosis of chickenpox

It is important to visit your doctor and ask for his assistance if you see any symptoms of chickenpox. If you have developed an unexplained rash, and if fever and cold is associated with it, you should immediately see a doctor. Other viruses or infections may also result in similar symptoms. A physical exam blisters present on the patient’s body will help the doctor to diagnose it. Lab tests will help in conformation of the cause of those blisters.


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