The varicella – zoster virus is responsible for chickenpox and shingles. This virus belongs to the a-herpesvirus family, which means that it is very contagious. While chickenpox is better known as a childhood disease, some adults do acquire the virus during their early adulthood years. Below you will discover everything that you need to know about the varicella-zoster virus and much more.
Many people recognize the terms chickenpox and shingles. There are fairly common and almost everyone winds up with chickenpox at some point or another. Of course, almost nobody recognizes the virus, which is actually responsible for these conditions. It is the Varicella-zoster virus, or VZV, which is responsible for both. Once you’ve gotten the virus, it will remain in your system forever. It can potentially transform form chickenpox to shingles.
Individuals that are older and have weaker immune systems are much more vulnerable to shingles. Vaccines are available and can help to fight off shingles! Still, statistics show that 50% of individuals in America will develop singles, before they turn 80 years old.
How it spreads
Varicella-zoster virus is very contagious and is spread through direct contact with an open skin lesion and through the droplet method. Of course, in order to come into contact with the virus, you will need to be within 3 feet of any type of respiratory droplet, which includes sneezing, coughing, post nasal drop, and exhalation. Respiratory droplets are heavy, so they cannot stay suspended in air, instead they can travel up to 3 feet, before they will fall to the floor.
Chickenpox is a highly visible and easily recognizable ailment. When someone encounters the problem, they’ll begin exhibiting signs of the virus almost instantly. The most common symptom is an itchy rash, which appears throughout the body, but mainly targets the torso to the neck. The face and limbs may also be impacted by the condition. Typically, this specific rash will last for a period of seven to ten days. During this period of time, the bumps go through a transformation from red bumps, to draining blisters. After this, they’ll begin to scab over.
First and foremost, you should know that the VZV virus is highly contagious and will spread very easily. If you haven’t already had chickenpox or haven’t had your vaccinations, you will almost always get chickenpox, when you encounter someone that is infected. Therefore, it is absolutely vital that you stay away from anyone that has come into contact with chickenpox!
When attempting to keep yourself free of this virus, you will definitely want to consider getting vaccinated! Although the vaccination isn’t entirely effective, it will help to lower your chances of getting the virus dramatically. It will also help to curb the symptoms, if you do wind up with the virus. In the same sense, individuals, who have weak immune systems, should stay far away from those with the virus!
If you have a newborn baby, you should keep them as far away from chickenpox victims as possible! It can actually be life threatening for these individuals, so avoidance is vital!
Treatment What Drugs are Usually Prescribed
While there is no cure for chickenpox there are many drugs that are prescribed to help relief the symptoms. Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone creams can help relive the itching, dry up the open sores, and speed up the healing process. Oral antihistamines are also very effective in reducing the itching, as well, but should not be given to infants, unless prescribed by a pediatrician.
For immunocompromised victims, antiviral medications can be prescribed to reduce the risks of complications caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which can be life threatening for these individuals.
NSAIDs and over the counter pain medications can also be administered to reduce pain, but aspirin should be avoided in infants and teenagers up to 19 years of age to avoid developing Reye’s syndrome.
Oatmeal baths can also help reduce the itching and dry up the open sores, while giving the individual an opportunity to relax.
At the end of the day, Varicella-Zoster Virus isn’t always deadly, but it can be. Either way, the virus, chickenpox and shingles are not fun! It is best to protect yourself with preventative measures and attempt to avoid the virus, at all costs. If this isn’t a possibility and you wind up with the virus, be sure to take action and attempt to remedy the complication quickly!