Chickenpox is caused by the virus varicella zoster, which is the virus also responsible for causing shingles. Transmission of the virus is through direct contact with a patient or by breathing the same air as the patient, when they cough or sneeze. Symptoms usually present after a person is infectious and this makes it difficult to control an outbreak. Having chickenpox usually affords lifetime immunity. Chickenpox usually runs its course for 2 weeks in health non-immune compromised children. People with a suppressed immune system (e.g. newborns, AIDS, post-transplantation) are more vulnerable to the virus and can develop more serious complications.
Symptoms: characteristic itchy rash, low grade fever and fatigue. The rash consists of small pimples that look like fluid filled blisters, and as the fluid leaks it forms a crust. Blisters and crusts are infectious and scratching them can lead to bacterial infection of skin.
Who to consult: dermatologist, GP, herbalist, pharmacist.