Chickenpox symptoms and whether they are dangerous for adults and babies

Chickenpox is an extremely common disease, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be harmful to some. It’s not usually a cause for concern, but adults and babies should be extra cautious

Little girl sick with chickenpox
Chickenpox is most common between March and May, so people should be on the lookout for symptoms

The endless urge to scratch the itch is something many of us can remember when we had chickenpox.

The disease is fairly common in growing children and is easily transmitted when a child either comes into contact with the rash or inhales the droplets from an infected person’s sneeze or cough.

A common concern about the disease is that it’s transmitted through cross-contamination, a bit like bird flu. However, the use of the bird in the name of chickenpox does not refer to a bird-borne disease, but has a number of potential meanings.

The name, which has been around for centuries, comes from the blisters that appear when infected. The theory is that they look a bit like chickpeas.

Another theory is that chickenpox is named because the rash looks a bit like chicken bites.

Despite being so common, some people still worry about contracting the disease.

Is Chickenpox Harmful?

Chickenpox is very common in children. Only certain groups of people should really worry about contagion


(Getty Images)

Chickenpox is thought to be usually more harmful to adults or those at risk. People at risk include people with autoimmune diseases, pregnant women and newborns.

If any of the above cases of chickenpox occur, urgent medical advice should be sought.

Adults are 25 times more likely to die from the diseases, but because it’s so common, the death toll is very low.

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases in the US said: “Chickenpox can cause complications such as pneumonia or, rarely, encephalitis.”

The virus, which peaks between March and May each year, is generally not a problem in children, and most people become immune to it once they have it.

NHS inform said: “Chickenpox is most common in children under the age of 10. In fact, chickenpox is so common in childhood that over 90% of adults are immune to the disease because they’ve had it before.”

People with the virus should apply cooling creams and gels from the pharmacy to their blisters and put socks over their hands to stop itching while they sleep.

You should also:

  • Bathe in cold water, pat dry with a towel and do not rub
  • Use acetaminophen for pain
  • Wear loose clothing
  • Talk to a pharmacist about using antihistamines to relieve itching
  • Drink enough liquid

What are the symptoms of chickenpox?

Chickenpox symptoms can be uncomfortable, but people should avoid scratching an itch


(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The main symptom of chickenpox is a pinpoint and itchy rash that can appear anywhere on the body.

Usually, spots begin to appear red or dark before turning into fluid-filled blisters that can be very itchy. Blisters eventually turn into crusts and fall off.

A person who gets the virus may experience the following:

  • a high temperature (usually lasts longer in adults)
  • pain and general malaise
  • loss of appetite

After chickenpox has subsided, the virus that caused it remains dormant in the body’s nerve tissue. This can return later in life as shingles, which can cause a painful rash.

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Fry Electronics Team

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