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What You Need to Know About Chickenpox

chickenpoxChickenpox is a member of the Varicella Zoster Virus family and is highly contagious. It typically takes between 10-21 days to appear after exposure to the virus. Chickenpox is contagious for a day or two before the lesions appear and until the lesions have crusted over.

The lesions generally appear on the head and trunk of the body in greater numbers and earlier than they do on the extremities. The lesions or pox become extremely itchy in addition to several other symptoms including: myalgia (muscle soreness), fever, nausea, sore throat, ear pain, and headache. With progression, the symptoms can evolve into low back pain, malaise (tiredness), loss of appetite, and of course the famous rash.

Chickenpox is much more common in children, but it is much more serious if an adult gets it. Most parents and adults have contracted chickenpox as children. Exposure to the virus will give a lifetime of immunity, but in rare cases it can strike twice. Because Chickenpox is more dangerous to adults, antiviral drugs (acyclovir) may be considered to reduce the severity and duration. There is a chickenpox vaccine available, but it does not give a lifetime of immunity. Research shows that it does not work in 15-20% of patients and eventually wears off.

That means that people are losing the immunity and contracting the disease later in life when it is more serious and a higher chance of death. Although Chickenpox is a highly contagious virus, it is not dangerous enough to inject chemicals straight into the bloodstream. The vaccine contains: varicella live virus neomycin phosphate, sucrose, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) processed gelatin, fetal bovine serum, guinea pig embryo cells, albumin from human blood, and human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue.

To put it into English, that is a live Chickenpox virus, sugar, MSG, cow blood, guinea pig, human blood, and aborted fetus cells. None of that is stuff that should be injected into a human. Couple that with a chance to get chickenpox a later stage in life when it is more dangerous and that is a recipe to second guess getting this vaccine or giving it to your children. Chickenpox used to be a childhood rite of passage, and now we try to avoid it like the plague.

Others don’t avoid it, and instead have “Chickenpox Parties” to get their children exposed and get their immunity the old fashioned way. The sores will come out at different times over a few days and there will be lesions at different stages of healing. The virus is airborne so that means that it can be spread by coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread with direct contact of the lesions. It is still contagious until the lesions are all crusted over.

Dealing with Chickenpox is all about staying at home so others aren’t needlessly exposed to the virus. Each case must be considered individually, but the average time for being contagious is between 5-7 days. Clipping fingernails is a key part to minimize scarring. The common Chickenpox scar can be avoided if the sores are left to heal on their own. Scratching makes the healing sores more susceptible to get a secondary infection and then form a scar. Calamine lotion and oatmeal baths can help for the itching. Avoid aspirin because the combination of a viral infection and aspirin increases the odds to develop Reye’s Syndrome. Good old fashioned time is the rest of it.

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