CHICKENPOX is largely seen as a common childhood disease which is usually relatively harmless but it can cause more serious issues if adults catch it – and it is possible to get it more than once.
Here's all you need to know about the condition and how you can treat it.
What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a viral disease that causes sufferers to break out in a red, itchy rash and spots all over the body.
It is usually a mild illness and children often suffer from it in early childhood.
However, once a person has overcome chicken pox, they will have immunity from it for the rest of their life.
Chickenpox is caused by the a herpes virus and is spread by sneezes, coughs, and coming into close contact with infected people.
What are the symptoms of chickenpox and when do you get a rash?
A person can be infected with the chickenpox virus for up to three weeks before they start to show any symptoms.
The main symptom of the condition is a rash and spots that develop all over the body in three stages.
In the first stage, small raised spots start to appear on the body, usually around the chest and the face.
Over the next few days, these turn into blisters that can often fill with fluid and can become incredibly itchy.
In the final stage, the blisters dry out and start to scab over before the crust of the scab falls off.
Chickenpox is usually contagious until all of the spots on the body have scabbed over.
Can you get chickenpox twice?
Most people who have already had it have developed an immunity for life, although the virus can develop later into shingles.
However, although rare, it is possible to get chickenpox more than once.
Is there a vaccine or treatment for chicken pox?
There is a vaccine for chickenpox but it is not part of the NHS childhood vaccination scheme.
The vaccine is only offered on the NHS to people who have a weakened immune system or could be put at risk by chicken pox and its complications.
It is given in the form of an injection that is delivered into the arm in two separate doses a few weeks apart.
For children who already have chickenpox, it is advised that they stay at home as they are highly contagious.
Parents can give them paracetamol to relieve fever and itching, but not ibuprofen, as it could make the infected child very ill.
Other treatments include calamine lotions and cooling gels to ease the itchiness of the skin and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.
What happens if you get chicken pox as an adult?
Chickenpox is usually a mild illness in children but catching the disease as a teenager or adult can leave them with serious problems.
One of the risks associated with contracting chicken pox as an adult is that the rash could become infected, which can delay the healing process and leave scars.
Another frequent complication is patients developing an inflammation of the lung tissue, known as pneumonitis, which smokers are especially susceptible to.
Other complications that can arise in adults also include encephalitis ( inflammation of the brain) and pneumonia.
Can chickenpox lead to shingles?
Chickenpox and shingles are caused by the same virus, and in some people who have had chickenpox, the virus can reactivate later in life, causing shingles.
As well as a fever and headache, it causes a rash that develops into itchy blisters, much like chickenpox, and usually lasts around two to four weeks.
Shingles is not contagious, but you can catch chickenpox from someone with shingles (if you haven't had chickenpox before).
Eamonn Holmes was forced to pull out of his presenting slot on August 3 due to shingles.
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