Chicken Pox and Shingles

Tre' Payne Period 8

Transmission/ Cause

Chickenpox is caused by the herpes zoster virus, it spreads by droplets from a sneeze or cough, or by contact with the clothing, oozing blisters, or bed linens of an infected person. Shingles is also caused by the same virus as chickenpox. You get shingles if you have had chickenpox before and the virus becomes active again, if you have never had chickenpox and you come into contact with the virus you will not shingles, you will get chickenpox.



"The time between exposure to the virus and eruption of symptoms is called the incubation period. For chickenpox, this period is 10 - 20 days. The patient often develops fever, headache, swollen glands, and other flu-like symptoms before the typical rash appears. While fevers are low grade in most children, some can reach 105 °F."

"The rash usually starts as well-defined, small, red clear spots.

Within 12 - 24 hours, these pimples develop into small fluid-filled blisters. The blisters grow, merge, and become pus-filled, and are extremely painful.

Within about 7 - 10 days (as with chickenpox), the blisters form crusts and heal. In some cases it may take as long as a month before the skin clears completely."


Chickenpox Treatment

"Patients with chickenpox do not have to stay in bed unless fever and flu symptoms are severe. To relieve discomfort, a child can take acetaminophen (Tylenol), with doses determined by the doctor. A child should never be given aspirin, or medications containing aspirin, as aspirin increases the risk for a dangerous condition called Reye syndrome.

Soothing Baths. Frequent baths are particularly helpful in relieving itching, when used with preparations of finely ground (colloidal) oatmeal. Commercial preparations (Aveeno) are available in drugstores, or one can be made at home by grinding or blending dry oatmeal into a fine powder. Use about 2 cups per bath. The oatmeal will not dissolve, and the water will have a scum. Adding baking soda (1/2 - 1 cup) to a bath may also help.

Lotions. Patients can apply calamine lotion and similar over-the-counter preparations to the blisters to help dry them out and soothe the skin.

Antihistamines. For severe itching, diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is useful and may help children sleep.

Preventing Scratching. Small children may have to wear mittens so that they don't scratch the blisters and cause a secondary infection. All patients with varicella, including adults, should have their nails trimmed short."

Shingles Treatment

"Painkillers, such as aspirin or acetaminophen, can relieve mild pain.

Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), are also helpful for pain.

Antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir, may help stop progression of the rash, especially if used early in the course of the blister breakout. Similar drugs, such as Valtrex or Famvir, can also be used. These drugs may also help stave off the painful after-effects of shingles known as postherpetic neuralgia.

Benzoin, available over the counter, may protect irritated skin when applied to unbroken lesions.

Antibiotics can keep the infection under control if the area becomes infected by bacteria.

Tricyclic antidepressants or seizure medication may be prescribed for the pain that lingers after lesions have healed. Antidepressants may also help with depression that can occur with the onset of shingles or as a result of the lingering pain.

Steroids to reduce inflammation and postherpetic neuralgia are considered controversial."



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