Shingles, (herpes zoster) is an infection usually associated with people over fifty. When someone gets chickenpox, typically younger people, the disease takes about three to five weeks to heal, but the virus survives in the cells.
Later in life, often many years later, the dormant chickenpox virus reactivates and strikes again. Only this time, it is not chickenpox but shingles. The major problem is a painful and itching rash. Use a good shingles cream to ease the symptoms.
People infected with Shingles cannot pass the disease on to other people, even when they are contagious; however, they can pass on chickenpox to people who have never had them.
Who is at risk
All viruses are opportunistic. They seek the easiest targets. That means they are looking for humans with weak immune systems. The lower the body’s defenses, the more the virus will thrive. It’s like having a malfunctioning army and no weapons. The body is incapable of keeping the enemy out or defeating the ones who have already invaded.
Who are the people most likely to have compromised or weaker immune systems? One group that stands out are those with medical conditions.
Diseases like diabetes, cancer, substance addictions, and other serious diseases. In these cases, the treatments become a double-edged sword. They fight the illnesses but compromise the body’s own defensive weapons.
Another group in danger of serious problems are newborns. Their immune system is just getting started and has not developed yet. A viral infection like chickenpox can become dangerously complicated quickly.
This is especially uncommon because mothers of newborns protect their child by passing on antibodies capable of fighting off the virus. Antibodies can only go from mom to baby if mom has had the chickenpox.
What to watch for when a newborn faces exposure
The medical community introduced the chickenpox vaccine in the mid-1990s. In the time since the introduction, the disease has almost gone away; however, babies cannot get vaccinated until they are about twelve months old.
The possibility still exists that upon being exposed under the least desirable circumstances, the virus could infect a newborn with the chickenpox virus.
Symptoms to look for
The following list includes symptoms, some that might occur even before the chickenpox rash presents itself. The list includes:
- Low-grade Fever
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive coughing
Once the rash shows up, there will be no question about what’s happening. The chickenpox rash arrives in stages. The first noticeable change is the appearance of many small red bumps that itch like crazy. It will show first on the upper body, midsection, or face. Eventually, they will cover the entire body. Each case is unique, some severe and some mild.
These bumps grow into fluid-filled blisters. When they break, the fluid leaks out, leaving the appearance of open sores. The next stage begins when the blisters form scabs. The entire ordeal lasts between five and ten days. During all phases be sure to apply a shingles cream to help with the pain and itching.
The incubation period for chickenpox is ten to twenty-one days after exposure to the virus.
Some serious complications
Chickenpox is usually not a big deal and goes away relatively quickly. But even with its benign nature, complications can occur. Stay aware and call a doctor when something seems excessive. Here are a few ideas of extraordinary circumstances:
- Higher grade fever
- Chickenpox rash in eyes
- Chickenpox rash emanating heat
- Excessive sleeping
- Muscle pain in neck and shoulders
The above symptoms show a genuine risk to a new baby. Please check with a pediatrician as quickly as possible. Treatments may include acetaminophen to reduce fever, not aspirin. Extreme cases call for antiviral drugs. And antibiotics used for treating bacterial infections.
Over the counter or prescribed medications are effective for easing the itch and pain of the rash. For the harsher cases use a good shingles cream.