ABC Medical Center > Chickenpox

What is Chickenpox?

21:56 - 4 May , 2021


It is an infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus that mainly affects children under 10 years old and that in adulthood can reactivate and cause a rather painful skin rash called shingles. Chickenpox is highly contagious to people who did not have it in childhood and who have not received the vaccine. Fortunately, today, thanks to vaccination and the immunity it provides, its incidence is lower.

The phase with the highest level of infection is two days before the rash appears on the skin. Similarly, a patient with shingles can transmit chickenpox, but not herpes.

Signs and symptoms Chickenpox

Commonly, many children with chickenpox have the following symptoms before the characteristic very itchy rash:

  • Headache.
  • Stomach ache.
  • High fever.
  • Nausea.
  • Lack of appetite.

The rash begins with small reddish bumps, which soon turn into blisters, which when broken form a brown crust.

The blisters appear between 12 and 20 days after having been in contact with an infected person. They usually appear first on the face, abdomen, and back, and then spread to most of the body, including the scalp and genitals.

Chickenpox complications can include meningitis, septicemia, and pneumonia, the most likely to be experienced by pregnant women, newborns, leukemia patients, people with a low immune system, or with skin problems.

Diagnosis and treatment Chickenpox

If your child has any of these symptoms, it is important that you see your pediatrician so that, through a physical examination and laboratory tests, they confirm the diagnosis.

Your doctor will prescribe the necessary medications to control symptoms, including painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and others to reduce itching.

They will also give you a series of recommendations to reduce itching and general discomfort, including:

  • Try to avoid scratching.
  • To prevent skin infections, trim your nails and monitor their hygiene.
  • Put gloves on before sleeping to avoid injuring the skin if scratching.
  • Dress in cool, soft cotton clothing.
  • Bathe in lukewarm water using a mild oatmeal soap.
  • Keep your skin hydrated with hypoallergenic lotions.

As it is a virus, antibiotics are not used, unless skin infections occur from scratching too much.

If your doctor identifies that your child is at risk of a complication due to its health or other factors, they will likely prescribe additional antiviral medication.

Remember that if your child has chickenpox, they should not be in contact with other children or unvaccinated adults until all the blisters are completely dry.

In general, this condition is overcome in one or two weeks without major problems. There is no cure, but the vaccine can prevent it completely or make your outbreak milder.

It is suggested that children receive the vaccine as follows:

  • Initial dose: between 10 and 12 months.
  • Reinforcement: between five and six years.

Children over 13 years old who have not had chickenpox and are not vaccinated should receive both doses of the vaccine within 28 days.

In our Pediatric Center, a team of highly trained specialists awaits you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring optimal care and results by providing care based on clinical practice guidelines and international protocols.

We have two pediatric intensive care units attended by experts in the management of critically ill pediatric patients and equipped with cutting-edge technology to offer the best treatment options.

Our subspecialists in pediatric emergencies are always ready to provide specialized care when you need it most.

Trust your children’s health to our experts.


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  • stanfordchildrens.org
  • aboutkidshealth.ca
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  • healthychildren.org
  • medigraphic.com
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  • Agüero SAC, Salazar MJ, Valverde JA. Varicela en el embarazo, infección potencialmente peligrosa para la madre y el feto. Revista Médica Sinergia. 2020;5(02):331-331.
  • Roig AT. Atención al neonato expuesto o infectado con el virus varicela-zoster. Rev Cubana Pediatr. 2020;92(1):1-11.

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