The varicella-zoster virus causes a common childhood illness known as chickenpox. Though chickenpox has become less common in the United States due to the chickenpox vaccine, some children still get chickenpox especially since the chickenpox vaccine is not among the required vaccines for public school attendance. What do chicken pox look like?
A child with chickenpox may experience a slight fever for a day or two before the chickenpox rash appears. The rash begins as red bumps. These red bumps turn into blisters that burst and cause open sores. The amount of blisters varies greatly among people with chickenpox. Even within the same family, one child might have only a few blisters while another child may be covered in blisters from the scalp to the feet.
Often, the first child in the family will have the mildest case of chickenpox with the fewest sores. The other children in the family tend to have more severe cases of chickenpox due to prolonged exposure to someone who has been infected. For example, the first child of one American family to get chickenpox had only a few blisters on her stomach. The second child in the family developed the chicken pox rash over most of his body. The third child in the family had chickenpox blisters all over the body including on her scalp and in her mouth.
The most troublesome symptom of chickenpox is severe itching of the sores. Scratching the sores can lead to scarring and infection of the sores. Therefore, the treatment of chickenpox is aimed at alleviating the itchiness. Home treatment of chickenpox includes oatmeal baths and calamine lotion to reduce itchiness. Calamine lotion and oatmeal bath additives are available over the counter in most drug stores.
Though most cases of chickenpox end without causing any complications, some people develop a complication affecting the central nervous system. Dizziness, headache, tremors, or seizures are signs of this complication which requires emergency medical services since the complication can cause dangerous swelling of the brain.
Chickenpox tends to be more severe in adults than in children. Most people who get chickenpox are fifteen years old or younger. If a pregnant woman gets chickenpox during her last trimester, the infant is at risk of contracting the virus which can be fatal for newborns. Though most children who get chickenpox never experience future problems with the varicella-zoster virus, the viral infection may resurface later in life as shingles.