Chickenpox is a viral disease caused by the infection of a virus known as the varicella zoster virus or the herpes zoster. This illness is acquired normally at a young age, though there are still adults who get infected by this disease. It is characterized by painful skin rash with blisters on a limited area of a person’s body. After a person recovers from the chickenpox, the virus will stay on the body, in the nerve cells, and become dormant. It can be reactivated, causing another disease called shingles.
This happens very rarely, but it is known for a fact that immunodeficient individuals can reactivate the herpes zoster. Chickenpox is rarely-fatal, but it is worse on adults than it is on the children. Individuals with a suppressed immune system, such as pregnant women, are very susceptible to serious complications. Symptoms of chickenpox include headache, fever and malaise.
These symptoms are not enough to assess that a person has a chickenpox. If the individual shows these symptoms, and then had feels sensations of burning pain, itching, hyperesthesia (an abnormal increase of sensitivity of the senses through stimuli) or paresthesia (the condition of being sensitive to heat, cold, light or touch), then it won’t be long before the individual will have rashes on his or her body.
This would complete the symptoms and you can now properly assume that that person has chickenpox. After that, the rashes will start to form small blisters. These blisters will start to darken, as it is filled with blood. Afterwards, it forms a crust. When the crust falls off, as it usually does, the skin heals and the person is free from chickenpox, for now.
The crust forms within 7-10 days, so it will be long before a person can recover from chickenpox. Herpes zoster may add different symptoms, depending on the part of the body involved. If it gets to the eyes, the person gets the condition known as herpes zoster opthalmicus. Symptoms of this include keratitis, uveitis and optic nerve palsies. This could lead to loss of vision, or in other words, blinding. Herpes zoster oticus however, infects the ear. This may be the case if the person has hearing loss and rotational dizziness.
If the rashes appear, doctors only need to see the rashes to tell that a person has chickenpox. But if the rashes do not appear, laboratory tests will be used to diagnose the person. To treat herpes zoster, there is a need to limit the severity and duration of pain, reduce complications and shorten the event of shingles in the body. To do this, a person needs antiviral drugs to weaken the ability of the varicella zoster virus.
The standard treatment presently uses aciclovir, though the newly developed valaciclovir and famciclovir have proven to be more powerful and safer. Antiviral treatment is prescribed for use of immunodeficient individuals and it is more preferable to give the treatment 72 hours after the rashes appeared.
To prevent varicella zoster virus from infecting, a vaccine was created, known as the Zostavax. With these, a person gains antibodies to protect them from the virus, thus preventing chickenpox and shingle.