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Chicken Pox Symptoms

Chicken Pox Symptoms
Chicken Pox
Causes and Risk Factors

Chicken pox lesions
Chicken pox lesions or blisters are the most tell-tale sign that chicken pox has begun. A particular skin lesion is very characteristic of chickenpox. Chicken pox start as a 2-4 mm red papule which develops an irregular border. Very soon, a thin clear vesicle develops on top of the area of redness. 8- 12 hours afterwards the fluid in the vesicle becomes cloudy and the vesicle breaks, leaving a crust. This fluid is highly contagious! However, after the lesion crusts over, it is no longer considered contagious.

A chicken pox lesion, or rash, generally begins on the scalp, face and back, but can spread to any body surface. Lesions are rarely experienced on the palms of hands or soles of feet. Sores can also be found in the mouth, on the eyelids and in the genital area.

A chicken pox crust or scab usually falls off after seven days, sometimes leaving a crater-like scar. Although lesions go through this complete cycle in around seven days, new lesions are forming every day for several days. Therefore , it may be a week or more before new lesions stop appearing and existing lesions crust over.  Signs of chickenpox include:

  • a red, itchy rash that is similar to an insect bite
  • small, liquid-filled blisters that break open and crust over

Symptoms during chicken pox outbreak
The chicken pox rash may be preceded by or accompanied by

  • abdominal pain
  • a dry cough
  • fever 
  • a general feeling of unease and discomfort (malaise)
  • headache
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • mild headache 

In healthy children, the disease is generally mild. Severe complications are not common but in some adults chicken pox may result in serious illness and symptoms are usually more severe for adults than children. Pregnant women and those with a suppressed immune system (from illness or medicines like chemotherapy) are at highest risk of serious complications. Possible complications of chicken pox include:

  • bacteria may infect skin lesions
  • encephalitis
  • herpetic conjunctivitis (and eye damage to the cornea)
  • meningitis
  • pneumonia
  • swallowing or breathing difficulties

Anyone who had chickenpox is at risk of a latent illness called shingles, a painful group of short lived blisters. This is by far the most common complication of chicken pox, caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus decades after the initial episode of chickenpox.  About one in 10 adults who've had chickenpox experiences shingles. The virus is more likely to reappear in older adults and people with weakened immune systems.  Shingles can lead to its own complication called postherpetic neuralgia, a condition in which the pain of shingles persists long after the blisters disappear. This complication can be severe.

Chickenpox and pregnancy  
If a women contracts chickenpox early in pregnancy, it can result in a variety of problems for a newborn, including low birth weight, birth defects or limb abnormalities. A greater threat to a baby occurs when the mother develops chickenpox in the week before birth. Then chicken pox can cause a serious, life-threatening infection in a newborn.

When to seek help
If you suspect that you or your child has developed chickenpox, consult a doctor. People who have never had chicken pox, are diagnosed with eczema or a suppressed immune system should contact a doctor as soon as they know they're been exposed to chickenpox. Likewise, if you're pregnant and not immune to chickenpox, talk to your doctor about the risks to you and your unborn child. Also, be sure to let your doctor know if any of these symptoms occur:

  • Lesions are accompanied by dizziness, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, tremors, light headedness, loss of muscle coordination, worsening cough, vomiting, stiff neck or a fever higher than 103 F (39.4 C)
  • Lesions spread to one or both eyes
  • Lesions become very red, warm or tender
  • Persistent symptoms(fever, joint pain, abdominal pain, head or neck ache) do not go away

It's important to diagnose and treat symptoms of chicken pox when you first notice them. This will help prevent the symptoms from worsening and causing scarring on the skin after lesions crust over. To learn more about how to diagnose chicken pox, check out the next section on Diagnosing Chicken Pox now.

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Tags: chicken pox, abdominal pain, conjunctivitis, complications, Chemotherapy, encephalitis, joint pain, Meningitis, contagious, Pregnancy, infection, dizziness, Pneumonia, shingles, symptoms, vomiting, pregnant, bacteria, Headache, muscle
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