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Conquering chickenpox: Essential tips for a speedy recovery

Remember those days when your worst fear was getting chickenpox? The red blisters you found nauseating? Chickenpox didn’t just haunt us as kids, but as adults as well. It may be more common in childhood, but you can still get it as an adult. If you are suffering from the disease, here’s a blog that can be of help. 

Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection that causes a rash with itchy, blister-like rashes to develop on the surface of the skin. The disease is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV).  

It is highly contagious among those who have not received vaccinations. Contact with a person who has chickenpox will nearly always result in infection if you have never had the illness and have not had the vaccination.  It is therefore recommended that everyone—including children, adolescents, and adults—should get two doses of chickenpox vaccine if they have never had chickenpox or were never vaccinated.

Here are some tips to follow to help manage and alleviate symptoms until your immune system fends off the virus.

Isolate yourself:

Chickenpox is highly contagious and can be spread from person to person for up to 48 hours before the rash develops. Additionally, until all ruptured blisters have crusted and turned into scabs, the infection remains communicable. So, it is important to stay home until all the blisters have crusted over, usually about 1-2 weeks. Also, it’s crucial to avoid contact with others, specifically, individuals with compromised immune systems, adults who have not received a vaccination and have not previously contracted chickenpox. The virus can be fatal to newborns and cause harm to unborn children during pregnancy.

Relieve itching:

The chickenpox rash can be super-itchy, and broken blisters sometimes sting. You can try the following remedies for these and other symptoms: 

  • An ice bath with baking soda, aluminium acetate, or raw oats added. 
  • Alternatively, you may incorporate colloidal oatmeal, a finely powdered oatmeal designed for soaking. 
  • Use over-the-counter antihistamines that contain skin-soothing properties, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), to relieve itching. 
  • Apply calamine lotion; petroleum jelly; or a fragrance-free, anti-itch lotion using a clean finger or cotton swab, dab or spread calamine lotion on itchy skin areas.

Maintain hygiene:

It can be especially challenging to control scratching. By practising good hygiene and washing your hands frequently, you can help prevent the spread of chickenpox. Keep the nails clean and closely trim fingernails to minimise the risk of secondary bacterial infections from scratching. Bathe in lukewarm water with mild soap, and avoid hot water to prevent further irritation.

Stay hydrated:

Staying hydrated​​ is crucial to helping your body fight the chickenpox virus. Since the illness produces fever and an appetite loss, you might not feel like drinking water. But maintaining adequate hydration and increasing water consumption are crucial for both combating the infection and reducing body temperature. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, especially if there is a fever.

Fever management:

It is common to develop a fever during the early stages of chickenpox. Over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce fever. Follow the recommended dosage and consult with a healthcare professional, especially in children.

Comfortable clothing:

Wear comfortable clothes made from natural fibres to minimise irritation to the skin, Clothing that is too tight or made from rougher fabrics, like wool and denim, can rub against the skin and aggravate your rash and itching.

Rest:

Get plenty of rest to help the body recover and boost the immune system.

Avoid aspirin:

Do not give aspirin or aspirin-containing products to children or teenagers with chickenpox due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease that affects the liver and brain and can cause death.

Prescription medications:

In some cases, antiviral medications may be prescribed by a healthcare professional, especially for individuals with weakened immune systems or those who are at higher risk of complications.

Follow medical advice:

Consult a healthcare professional for advice on managing symptoms, especially if there are concerns about complications.

Vaccination:

The best way to prevent chickenpox is through vaccination. If you haven’t had chickenpox or haven’t been vaccinated, consider getting the vaccine to reduce the risk and severity of the illness.

Closing thoughts

Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral illness that results in a blistering skin rash. In healthy children, the disease is typically mild; however, in high-risk groups, such as pregnant women, newborns, and unvaccinated adolescents and adults, it can result in more severe disease or complications.

Avoiding contact with anyone who has chickenpox can significantly reduce the risk of transmission. But, ultimately, the best way to avoid contracting the illness is by getting the chickenpox vaccination.

Apart from receiving a vaccination, you can also stop the spread of chickenpox by maintaining proper hygiene and limiting your contact with infected individuals.

Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice based on your specific situation. If you suspect you or someone else has chickenpox, seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate care.

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Source: HEALTHIANS

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