Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a highly contagious viral infection that primarily affects children. Vaccination has significantly reduced its incidence in recent years, but it’s still important for parents and caregivers to be aware of chickenpox symptoms and prevention strategies.
According to the CDC, chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). VZV is a DNA virus that spreads through respiratory droplets from an infected person. It is highly contagious, infecting approximately 90% of unvaccinated individuals upon exposure – a contagion rate similar to measles.
Once infected, VZV remains in the body as a latent infection, meaning it is non-symptomatic. While it’s often associated with an itchy rash, chickenpox can lead to fever and flu-like symptoms. Most cases of chickenpox are mild, but it can be more severe in infants, adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems.
Common Chickenpox Symptoms
Recognizing the signs of chickenpox helps with early diagnosis and effective disease management. The acute infection usually lasts 4-7 days.
- Rash: The hallmark of chickenpox is an itchy, red rash that often starts on the face, chest, and back before spreading to other parts of the body. The rash will progress to fluid-filled blisters, which will crust over and form scabs as the virus runs its course.
- Fever: Children with chickenpox may develop a mild to moderate fever, usually between 101°F to 102°F (38.3°C to 38.9°C).
- Fatigue: Many children with chickenpox experience fatigue, weakness, and a general feeling of being unwell.
- Loss of Appetite: The fever from chickenpox can cause a temporary loss of appetite in affected children.
- Headache: Headaches are common during a chickenpox infection.
Vaccination helps prevent chickenpox in most people. Infection is still possible, though the symptoms are lessened. In the United States, children receive two doses: one at age 1 and a second between ages 4 and 6. Over 95% of children over the age of 1 are partially vaccinated for chickenpox, and over the age of 4 are fully vaccinated. Infants under 1 year old are the most susceptible community.
Due to vaccination efforts, there have not been any major chickenpox outbreaks in recent years. Vaccination protects individuals and helps establish herd immunity, reducing the overall spread of the virus.
Seeking Pediatric Care
Instead of the rash, mild symptoms may set in first. If you suspect your child has chickenpox, speak with a healthcare professional right away. Hello Pediatrics offers telehealth, allowing you to consult with a healthcare professional remotely. This is especially important to minimize the risk of spreading such a contagious disease. Our board-certified Pediatricians can provide guidance, diagnosis, treatment recommendations, and strategies for chickenpox prevention so the rest of your household stays healthy.
Hello Pediatrics offers convenient access to board-certified Pediatricians and ensures prompt care for your child, all while minimizing the risk of exposure. Parents can keep their children healthy and protected from chickenpox and other common childhood illnesses by adhering to the recommended vaccination schedule and staying informed about the signs and symptoms to watch out for. To learn more about our pediatric telehealth services, contact us online or by phone at (855) 576-8745.