You may have gotten chickenpox, medically known as varicella, when you were very small. While it’s never fun to be sick, getting chickenpox can be especially embarrassing. Even children have a sense of wanting to be accepted by their peers, and they can expect other kids to gawk at someone who has a bunch of red dots on their body. So as a parent, what do you need to know about chickenpox, and is there anything you can do to prevent them? Let’s find out!
The Must-Know Facts
- Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster.
- It has been around for a long, long time. It is believed that chickenpox first emerged 70 million years ago, around the same time the dinosaurs went extinct.
- Most people will get chickenpox, usually before the age of 10.
- Adults are typically immune to chickenpox after they have already had it.
- However, it is also a highly contagious, airborne condition, so if you have other children, it’s best to have them keep their distance from the infected child.
- In addition, while it is typically passed off as a harmless childhood illness, there are some cases where chickenpox can become a more serious issue. For instance, some symptoms are known to cause encephalitis, pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome, and sepsis. This of course will vary from person to person, as no two peoples’ bodies are exactly the same.
- If an adult catches chickenpox, the symptoms tend to be much more serious. Hospitalization may be necessary, as they are 25 more times more likely to die from the decrease than children.
- If a woman is to get chickenpox while pregnant, this is incredibly dangerous, as it can harm the fetus. If caught during the first 20 weeks of gestation, the child will have a higher chance of congenital varicella syndrome. Medical help must be sought immediately.
- The CDC recommends children receive two doses of the chickenpox vaccine. The first dose is given shortly after their 1st birthday (typically between 12 to 15 months of age) and the second dose between ages 4 to 6 years old. Getting both doses have been shown to be 90% effective at preventing the disease. Even if a child is still to get the disease, their symptoms will be less severe than if they were to not be vaccinated.
- If an adult has not or is not sure if they are already vaccinated against chickenpox, they can request to get it. This is highly recommended even if you are not positive that you never received the vaccination.
An Important Note
If you are concerned due to your child having a pre-existing medical condition or you are not seeing symptoms going away within the usual time, set up an appointment with the pediatrician as soon as possible.
If your child gets chickenpox, they may become greatly distressed. It’s best to assure them that the symptoms will disappear in 4 to 7 days and are very unlikely to ever return again. Allow them to take a sick day or two from school or daycare and just relax at home with their favorite TV program and a snack.