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All about chicken pox in babies

All about chicken pox in babies

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Chicken pox is a classic childhood disease, which is caused by a virus called varicella zoster, therefore it is also known as varicella.

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Chicken pox is Highly Contagious. It is an extremely contagious air borne disease that spreads very easily by contact with the fluid from blisters or through droplets in exhaled air, coughing and sneezing. Chicken pox is contagious maximum up to five days before and after the rash appears. When all the sores have crusted over, the infection is usually no longer communicable.

Symptoms of Chickenpox.

The incubation period of chicken pox virus is of 21 days and babies with chicken pox may show symptoms only after 10-21 days of acquiring the infection. Symptoms tend to appear 14 to 16 days after the initial exposure but can occur anytime between 10 to 21 days after contact with the virus.

Chickenpox Starts with Rashes. Most babies with chicken pox show symptoms like mild fever, headache, coughing, abdominal pains or loss of appetite for a day or two before breaking out in the classic pox rash. These symptoms last for 2 to 4 days after the break out. Chicken pox usually starts with skin rashes mainly on the body and head. These rashes then develop into hundreds of itchy, fluid-filled blisters that burst and form crusts.

Fluid Filled Blisters Appear on the Skin. Babies with chicken pox may develop small, itchy, fluid-filled blisters over red spots on the skin. These blisters have the following characteristics:

  • Appearance of small blisters on the scalp usually confirms the diagnosis
  • The process of blister formation usually starts from the scalp, then the trunk (which is the area of maximum concentration), finally the arms and legs
  • After 1-2 days, the blisters become cloudy, then scab and new crops of blisters spring up in groups
  • Any part of skin that is irritated (by diaper rash, eczema, sunburn, etc.) is likely to be infected more.
  • Chicken pox rash is typically very itchy (pruritic)
  • The pox often appears in the mouth, genitals and eyelids
  • Most pox do not leave scars but if they become infected with bacteria from scratching, scarring may occur

Things you need to know about chicken pox.

Chickenpox Infection During Pregnancy. Varicella infection in expecting mothers can transmit to the foetus resulting in foetal infection. If infection occurs during the first 28 weeks of gestation, it can lead to foetal varicella syndrome (also known as congenital varicella syndrome). Effects on the foetus can range in severity from underdeveloped toes and fingers to severe anal and bladder malformation. Possible problems include brain or eye damage, neurological disorders, damage to body and skin disorders. 

Chicken pox Infection in Neonates. Infection during later stages of gestation or immediately following birth is referred to as " neonatal varicella". Maternal infection with varicella can cause premature delivery. The baby is at a higher risk of infection 7 days prior to delivery and up to 7 days following the birth. The baby may also be exposed to the virus via infectious siblings or other contacts, but this is of less concern if the mother is immune. Newborns who develop symptoms are at a high risk of pneumonia and other serious complications.

Some Babies Are Resistant to Chicken pox. Babies whose mothers have had chicken pox or have received the chicken pox vaccine are at a very low risk of catching varicella infection before they are 1 year old. If however, they do catch chickenpox, it is often mild because the antibodies that are transferred to them from their mother’s blood during their fetal life help to protect them.

Measures to Prevent Chicken pox.

Though chicken pox is a very contagious disease, it can be prevented to some extent by taking preventive measures. Avoid contact of your baby from the infected person. Get your baby vaccinated for chicken pox. Though a small number of babies may develop chicken pox even after they have received the vaccine, but it is only a mild case.

Patient care and cure. If your baby has chicken pox, bathe her regularly to reduce itching and prevent secondary infection. Keep her fingernails short in order to prevent scratching as it can lead to secondary infection and scarring. You may make your baby wear mittens on the hands at night. Give medication for itching after consulting your pediatrician. Children with chicken pox should not go to school or day care until all lesions are crusted over.

Dietary Intervention. Babies with chickenpox can be highly irritable and can also get fever. Their immune system needs to be boosted for faster recuperation. Nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Zinc, Folic Acid etc. are good for building immunity. Incorporate adequate amounts of these nutrients in your baby’s food. Her diet should be balanced and rich in vitamins. Give soft and easily digestible food. Give ample fluids so as to soothe your baby and reduce her irritability.

Chicken pox is not a very common occurrence in babies. But if the baby gets it, it requires proper care and attention. By taking good care, you can help your baby recover from it quite smoothly and easily.

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