child with chickenpox having temperature checked for feverChickenpox used to be one of the most common viruses to affect children before its vaccination became available in the United States in 1995. Its symptoms include a rash across the body, as well as mild fever. The virus is highly contagious and spreads quickly in contained groups, and you are immune to it once you have contracted it. Most people have experienced chickenpox by adulthood. If you work in childcare or have not been exposed to the virus, learn the symptoms in order to receive proper treatment.

Chickenpox Symptoms

You can contract the chickenpox, or varicella, virus through direct contact with an infected person or object. The bumps from the chickenpox rash can secrete fluids that can infect stuffed animals, plastic or wood toys and books, as well as worn clothing. Once the virus is contracted, it can take up to 21 days for symptoms to present, and the patient will be contagious for up to 10 days following the rash’s first appearance. The rash is the main symptom of the virus, starting off as smaller pink and red bumps before expanding with fluids, leaking and scabbing. When the rash begins to scab, the patient will no longer be contagious, though it will take several days to heal. A person with the chickenpox may also exhibit a mild to severe fever, fatigue and a loss of appetite as the virus progresses.

Who Can Be Affected by the Chickenpox?

People 1 year or older can contract the varicella virus, from infants and toddlers to adults. As children’s immune systems are still developing, school-age children are the most at-risk for contracting chickenpox, followed by adults working in childcare or spending most of their time around children. Though you will be immune to the chickenpox after your symptoms have subsided, you may be vulnerable to contracting shingles as you reach adulthood. To combat the shingles virus, a vaccination is available for adults over the age of 60.

Complications from the Chickenpox Virus

Although complications from the chickenpox are rare, they are possible. Individuals with lowered immune systems including pregnant women, cancer and HIV patients and young children can be more prone to complications from the virus. Complications can range from infections on the blisters from the rash to dehydration and pneumonia. If your child experiences headaches during their case of the chickenpox, do not give them aspirin for pain relief. When aspirin is given to children with chickenpox under the age of 18, a potentially fatal condition called Reye’s Syndrome can develop.

If your child is beginning to exhibit symptoms of the chickenpox or you are interested in getting vaccinated, please visit your local AFC Urgent Care Center for treatment.