"Children's Disease" Or Chickenpox: What Are The Symptoms And Can Adults Be Infected?

Date June 21, 2018

An extremely uncomfortable condition called chickenpox, also varicella has always been considered a children’s disease. And it is partially true. Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection caused by varicella-zoster virus. Most people get infected at the very young age as it spreads very fast the same way flu or cold does. It is extremely rare for a person to have this infection twice, so you have to deal with it only once, and it’s better to go through chickenpox in your childhood because the disease causes far more serious symptoms in adults.

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What are the symptoms of chickenpox?

The virus stays in your body for 7 to 21 days before causing any symptoms. Typically, the infection lasts for 1 to 2 weeks. The most common symptom of chickenpox is an itchy rash all over the body. Other symptoms include:

  • malaise (feeling of being sick);
  • fever (typically much worse in adults);
  • aching muscles (like when having flu);
  • poor appetite;
  • possible nausea and vomiting.

Usually, the classic rash appears on the second day, after the malaise and fever. Once it appears, it goes through three specific phases:

  1. The appearance of papules (pink or red bumps), which break out in a few days.
  2. The formation of vesicles (fluid-filled blisters) from the raised bumps.
  3. The appearance of crusts and scabs over the broken vesicles, which take a few more days to heal.

Remember, the new waves of papules that have to go through the full cycle can occur. This means you may have the manifestations of all three stages on your body at the same time.

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Possible complications

Adults are more vulnerable to the disease than children, which makes them more prone to complications (even though they are very rare). Newborns, infants up to 4 weeks old, pregnant women, or any person with weakened or suppressed immune system are at risk of developing complications including:

  • pneumonia (infection of the lungs);
  • encephalitis (inflammation of the brain);
  • Reye’s syndrome (an extremely rare condition that causes swelling of the liver and brain);
  • blisters can become infected with bacteria.

Pregnancy and chickenpox

It is extremely important to know about the potential risk for the baby during the pregnancy. There is a chance of passing the virus to the fetus, which may cause the infection. Also, if chickenpox occurs during the first 20 weeks, the fetus can get fetal varicella syndrome, which can lead to the following consequences: eye problems, brain drainage, scarring, and shortened limbs. It is extremely important to consult with your doctor as soon as possible in case you have chickenpox during the pregnancy.

Overall, chickenpox is considered a mild disease, which is more annoying than dangerous. However, it is best to visit a doctor to discuss treatment in case you suspect to having it.

Take care and stay healthy!

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.