It starts with a few itchy spots on different parts of your body. Then the itching worsens as the initial spots turn into blisters and severe skin rashes. But what is chickenpox? How effective is the chickenpox vaccine?
Here's how to stay healthy in the face of chickenpox.
What Is Chickenpox?
Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It is a common childhood illness, but it can also affect adults who have not been exposed to the virus before.
Chickenpox is highly contagious and spreads through direct contact with an infected person's respiratory secretions, like coughing or sneezing. It can also spread through contact with the fluid from the blisters.
The symptoms of chickenpox typically include:
- Rash of itchy blisters that spread throughout the body
Rashes usually appear first on the face, chest, and back before spreading to other parts of the body. The blisters eventually burst and scab over and then begin to heal.
A vaccine available for chickenpox is highly effective in preventing the disease. If a person does contract chickenpox, treatment typically involves managing the symptoms with over-the-counter medications and avoiding scratching the blisters to prevent infection.
How Contagious Is Chicken Pox?
Chickenpox is highly contagious.
A person with chickenpox is contagious from about 1 to 2 days before the rash appears until all the blisters have crusted over. This usually takes about 5 to 7 days.
The virus is most contagious during the first 2 to 3 days after the rash appears when the blisters are still developing and producing fluid.
The virus can spread through coughing, sneezing, or talking, as well as by touching or breathing the particles released into the air. It can also spread by touching a surface or object contaminated with the virus and touching one's mouth or nose.
People who have never had chickenpox and have not had a vaccine are at the highest risk of contracting the virus. In addition, people with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or who have HIV/AIDS, are at a higher risk of developing severe complications from chickenpox.
Take precautions to prevent the spread of chickenpox, like avoiding contact with infected individuals, washing hands frequently, and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
Vaccination is also highly effective in preventing the spread of the virus and reducing the risk of complications.
Chickenpox And Shingles
The same virus, the varicella-zoster virus, causes chickenpox and shingles.
After a person has had chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the nerve tissue near the spinal cord and brain. In some people, the virus can reactivate later in life, causing shingles.
The exact reason why the virus reactivates has yet to be fully understood. But it is believed to be linked to a weakened immune system caused by aging, stress, illness, or certain medications.
When the virus reactivates, it travels along the nerve fibers to the skin, causing a painful rash with blisters. It's usually limited to one side of the body.
Is Shingles Contagious?
No, shingles is not contagious.
However, people who haven't had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine can contract the virus from direct contact with the fluid from the blisters of a person with shingles.
The risk of developing shingles increases with age, and it's more common in people over 50.
A vaccine is available for shingles, which is recommended for adults over 50 to reduce the risk of developing the condition and its complications.
Overall, the same virus causes chickenpox and shingles. The risk of developing shingles after having chickenpox can be reduced through vaccination and maintaining a healthy immune system.
The Chickenpox Vaccine
The chickenpox vaccine is a highly effective way to prevent the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox.
Children typically receive two doses, with the first dose at 12-15 months of age and the second at 4-6 years of age. You can schedule vaccines the next time you have a physical exam or on a spur-of-the-moment trip to your local Atlanta urgent care.
The vaccine triggers the body's immune system to produce antibodies against the VZV virus. This helps to prevent infection or reduce the severity of the disease if a vaccinated person does contract chickenpox.
Getting vaccinated is important for several reasons. Firstly, it protects against a highly contagious and uncomfortable illness that can lead to serious complications.
While most people recover from chickenpox without complications, others are at higher risk.
- Pregnant women
- People with weakened immune systems
Secondly, getting vaccinated helps to prevent the spread of the virus. Even if vaccinated people contract chickenpox, they are less likely to spread the disease to others.
Finally, getting vaccinated helps protect against the VZV virus's reactivation later in life. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains in the body and can reactivate later in life, causing a painful condition called shingles. The chickenpox vaccine can help to reduce the risk of shingles.
The chickenpox vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect against a highly contagious and potentially serious illness.
Healthcare professionals and public health organizations recommend it for all children and adults who have not previously had chickenpox.
The Chickenpox Vaccine In Atlanta At WestsideMed
At WestsideMed, you can easily access the chickenpox vaccine, regardless of age or occupation. Along with other essential medical services, WestsideMed offers comprehensive vaccinations in Atlanta.
Whether you're a healthcare worker or a parent looking to protect your child, you can simply walk in, no appointment needed, to our Atlanta urgent care clinic.
Urgent care clinics in Atlanta, like WestsideMed, offer a variety of vaccines, including the MMR vaccine, flu shot, and polio vaccine, to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
We provide a welcoming, warm environment to take care of any medical issues you may have.