Chickenpox

"The treatment of chickenpox should always be indicated by a pediatrician. It is important to avoid the consumption of aspirin to avoid the appearance of Reye's syndrome."

DR. REYES LÓPEZ DE MESA
SPECIALIST. PEDIATRICS DEPARTMENT

Chickenpox is a viral disease that is characterized by the appearance on the skin of several outbreaks of typical lesions, formed by small papules that are transformed into vesicles (with liquid content) and that when dried form scabs.

In most cases it appears in children under 10 years, being a highly contagious disease.

It is spread by direct contact or through the air. The virus is found in the vesicles and patients are infectious from one day before the appearance of the skin lesions until all lesions have crusted (7-8 days).

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What are the symptoms of chickenpox?

The incubation period varies between 7 and 21 days. Then the specific exanthema appears, characterized by small red papules that almost immediately transform into clear vesicles on a reddish base (erythematous).

After 24 hours, they break and become scabs. The lesions first appear on the trunk, then extend to the face and scalp.

Almost always a very intense itch (pruritus) appears that makes the child want to scratch. It is important to avoid scratching these lesions because they can leave scars.

The severity of the disease can vary from a few lesions and few signs of systemic disease, to many hundreds of skin lesions.

The fever is high, can range from 39.5-40 º C.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Exanthema (small red papules)
  • Light-colored vesicles with a reddish base
  • Scabs
  • Fever
  • Intense itching

Do you have any of these symptoms?

You may have chickenpox

What are the causes of chickenpox?

The responsible is the virus of the varicella zoster, a virus of the family of the herpes virus.

The first contact with this virus causes chickenpox, leaving immunity for life.

However, the virus can remain latent in the body to reactivate later, but this time in the form of herpes zoster.

What complications can occur?

Its main complication is the infection of the skin lesions.

A smaller percentage of children may develop Reye's syndrome, associated with the ingestion of aspirin.

In addition, it is possible the affectation of the central nervous system in form of encefalitis post-infectious, that generally takes place with cerebellar affectation.

How is it prevented?

Prevention of chickenpox is done by using specific immunoglobulin against the varicella-zoster virus within the first 72 hours after exposure.

It is indicated in those susceptible individuals who have contacted a patient with chickenpox and who also have other information that confers a special risk (acquired or congenital immunosuppression, pregnancy in the first trimester, newborn at risk of perinatal chickenpox, etc.)

Active prevention, before the appearance of the disease, is carried out by vaccination during childhood with the live attenuated virus vaccine.

How is chickenpox treated?

The diagnostic evaluation should always be performed by a pediatrician

The treatment of chickenpox is symptomatic. It must be focused to alleviate the itching (pruritus) to avoid the scratching of the injuries and that they do not remain scars. For it local and systemic antipruriginous agents are used, as well as sedation if it is required.

The consumption of aspirin should be avoided to avoid the appearance of Reye's syndrome, treating the fever with other antipyretics.

Acyclovir may be used if complications arise.

Where do we treat it?

IN NAVARRE AND MADRID

The Department of Pediatrics
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

All our specialists work exclusively and, in addition, since we have all the technology in the same center, we offer the performance of tests and diagnosis in less than 72 hours.

We have a team of highly qualified professionals to attend the different specialized units: Oncopediatrics, Neuropediatrics, Endocrinopediatrics, Neonatology, etc.

Organized in specialized units

  • Neonatology Area.
  • Pediatric Endocrinology.
  • Pediatric Cardiology.
  • Pediatric Neuropediatrics.
  • Digestive and pediatric nutrition.
  • General and preventive pediatrics.
  • Pediatric Pneumology.
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