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CHICKEN POX

Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral disease - the virus, herpes foster, being the same as that which causes shingles in later life and , like German measles, is spread by by droplet infection. The incubation period is two weeks, and the child is infectious for one day before the spots appear until they are covered by scabs.

Symptoms

The characteristic symptom is an irritating itchy rash which starts on the trunk and gradually spreads over the face, where it can involve the scalp, mouth and ears, and also the upper arms and legs. The rash starts as small red spots which soon become blebs (blisters containing a clear fluid). This fluid then changes into pus, and the blebs then burst. These gradually dry, forming scabs which fall off after seven to ten days leaving pinkish scars which soon fade and disappear. The rash, rather than coming out all at once, appears in small clusters of spots over a number of days so that different stages of the rash can be seen at the same time. A child may be quite distressed by the itching and develop a mild fever.


Treatment

This consists of minimizing the irritation of the rash by the use of calamine lotion and mild sedatives.

There are no significant complications other than infection of the rash which is usually due to scratching. Efforts should be made to avoid this as it can result in permanent scarring.

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