Chicken Pox is an acute illness caused by the virus, Varicella Zoster. It is mainly a common childhood illness, but can be acquired in adults, where the illness may be more severe. The virus is easily transmitted from person to person by coughing or sneezing and is highly infectious, especially before the rash comes out when there may be no symptoms or mild symptoms only.
The classic symptom is a rash, which is very itchy and can be widespread affecting the face, chest, arms and legs. There is often fever and cold symptoms also. The symptoms tend to improve after 1 week. The illness can vary from mild symptoms with a few spots to itchy rash covering the whole body, which can be very distressing, affecting sleep, school and work and causing scarring to the skin. Adults who catch chicken pox tend to have more complicated illness.
Chicken Pox in Pregnancy is a serious disease for the mother and especially the baby. Therefore, it is important to know before trying for pregnancy whether you have immunity to this illness and if not, vaccination may be appropriate to protect you.
There is no specific treatment for chicken pox as most children will recover spontaneously. It is important if you are working closely with children or in health care to check whether you have had chicken Pox, as there is vaccination is available to protect you.
The Varicella vaccine can be given from 12 months of age and prevents against the infection. It may be appropriate to vaccinate if you have been exposed to chicken pox within the last five days and are not sure if you have had the illness during childhood.