What is Chickenpox?

A health article about chickenpox from Your Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies

Chickenpox (also called varicella) is a common and extremely infectious childhood disease that also affects adults on occasion.

It produces an itchy, blistery rash that typically lasts about a week and is sometimes accompanied by a fever or other symptoms.

A single attack of the disease almost always brings lifelong immunity against the disease.

Because the symptoms are easily recognized and in most cases merely unpleasant rather than dangerous, treatment can almost always be carried out at home.

Severe complications can develop, however, and professional medical attention is essential in some circumstances.

Some of the common symptoms of chickenpox

A case of chickenpox usually starts without warning or with only a mild fever and a slight feeling of unwellness.

Within a few hours or days small red spots begin to appear on the scalp, neck, or upper half of the trunk.

After a further 12-24 hours the spots typically become itchy, fluid-filled bumps called vesicles, which continue to appear in crops for the next two to five days.

In any area of skin, lesions of a variety of stages can be seen.

These blisters can spread to cover much of the skin, and in some cases also may be found inside the mouth, nose, ears, vagina, or rectum.

Some people develop only a few blisters, but in most cases the number reaches 250-500.

The blisters soon begin to form scabs and fall off.

Scarring usually does not occur unless the blisters have been scratched and become infected.

Occasionally a minor and temporary darkening of the skin (called hyperpigmentation) is noticed around some of the blisters.

The degree of itchiness can range from barely noticeable to extreme.

Some sufferers also have headaches, abdominal pain, or a fever.

Full recovery usually takes five to 10 days after the first symptoms appear.

Again, the most severe cases of the disease tend to be found among older children and adults.

Types of chickenpox

Before the varicella vaccine (Varivax) was released for use in 1995, nearly all of the four million children born each year in the United States contracted chickenpox, resulting in hospitalization in five of every 1,000 cases and 100 deaths.

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (a member of the herpes virus family), which is spread through the air or by direct contact with an infected person.

Once someone has been infected with the virus, an incubation period of about 10-21 days passes before symptoms begin.

The period during which infected people are able to spread the disease is believed to start one or two days before the rash breaks out and to continue until all the blisters have formed scabs, which usually happens four to 7 days after the rash breaks out but may be longer in adolescents and adults.

For this reason, doctors recommend keeping children with this condition away from school for about a week.

It is not necessary, however, to wait until all the scabs have fallen off.

Chickenpox has been a typical part of growing up for most children in the industrialized world (although this may change if the new varicella vaccine becomes more widely accepted).

The disease can strike at any age, but by ages nine or 10 about 80-90% of American children have already been infected. U.S. children living in rural areas and many foreign-born children are less likely to be immune.

Because almost every case of chickenpox, no matter how mild, leads to lifelong protection against further attacks, adults account for less than 5% of all cases in the United States.

Study results reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that more than 90% of American adults are immune to this virus.

Adults, however, are much more likely than children to suffer dangerous complications. More than half of all chickenpox deaths occur among adults.

What Causes chickenpox

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), also known as human herpes virus 3 (HHV-3), one of the eight herpes viruses known to affect humans.

It starts with conjunctival and catarrhal symptoms and then characteristic spots appearing in two or three waves, mainly on the body and head rather than the hands and becoming itchy raw pox (pocks), small open sores which heal mostly without scarring.

Chickenpox has a 10-21 day incubation period and is highly contagious through physical contact two days before symptoms appear.

Following primary infection there is usually lifelong protective immunity from further episodes of chickenpox.

Chickenpox is rarely fatal (usually from varicella pneumonia), with pregnant women and those with a suppressed immune system being more at risk.

Pregnant women not known to be immune and who come into contact with chickenpox may need urgent treatment as the virus can cause serious problems for the fetus. This is less of an issue after 20 weeks.

The most common complication of this condition is shingles; this is most frequently a late effect.

Risk Factors: Who are prone to

Although for most people chickenpox is no more than a matter of a few days' discomfort, some groups are at risk for developing complications, the most common of which are bacterial infections of the blisters, pneumonia, dehydration, encephalitis, and hepatitis:

  • Infants. Complications occur much more often among children less than one year old than among older children. The threat is greatest to newborns, who are more at risk of death from chickenpox than any other group. Under certain circumstances, children born to mothers who contract chickenpox just prior to delivery face an increased possibility of dangerous consequences, including brain damage and death. If the infection occurs during early pregnancy, there is a small (less than 5%) risk of congenital abnormalities.
  • Immunocompromised children. Children whose immune systems have been weakened by a genetic disorder, disease, or medical treatment usually experience the most severe symptoms of any group. They have the second-highest rate of death from chickenpox.
  • Adults and children 15 and older. Among this group, the typical symptoms of chickenpox tend to strike with greater force, and the risk of complications is much higher than among young children.

Immediate medical help should always be sought when anyone in these high-risk groups contracts the disease.

Prevention of chickenpox

A substance known as varicella-zoster immune globulin (VZIG), which reduces the severity of symptoms, is available to treat immunocompromised children and others at high risk of developing complications.

It is administered by injection within 96 hours of known or suspected exposure to the disease and is not useful after that. VZIG is produced as a gamma globulin from blood of recently infected individuals.

A vaccine for chickenpox became available in the United States in 1995 under the name Varivax. Varivax is a live, attenuated (weakened) virus vaccine.

It has been proven to be 85% effective for preventing all cases of chickenpox and close to 100% effective in preventing severe cases. Side effects are normally limited to occasional soreness or redness at the injection site.

CDC guidelines state that the vaccine should be given to all children (with the exception of certain high-risk groups) at 12-18 months of age, preferably when they receive their measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

For older children, up to age 12, the CDC recommends vaccination when a reliable determination that the child in question has already had chickenpox cannot be made.

Vaccination also is recommended for any older child or adult considered susceptible to the disease, particularly those, such as health care workers and women of childbearing age, who face a greater likelihood of severe illness or transmitting infection.

A single dose of the vaccine was once thought sufficient for children up to age 12; older children and adults received a second dose four to eight weeks later.

However, an outbreak at a daycare center in 2000 brought concern in the medical community about a second vaccination for younger children, since many of the affected children had been vaccinated. Researchers began recommending a second vaccination in 2002.

In 1997 the cost of two adult doses of the vaccine in the United States was about $80.

Although this cost was not always covered by health insurance plans, children up to age 18 without access to the appropriate coverage could be vaccinated free of charge through the federal Vaccines for Children program.

Varivax is not given to patients who already have overt signs of the disease. It was once thought unsafe for children with chronic kidney disease, but a 2003 report said the vaccination was safe in these children.

The finding is important, since even chickenpox can be a serious complication in children who must undergo a kidney transplant.

The vaccine also is not recommended for pregnant women, and women should delay pregnancy for three months following a complete vaccination.

The vaccine is useful when given early after exposure to chickenpox and, if given in the midst of the incubation period, it can be preventative.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America stated in 2000 that immunization is recommended for all adults who have never had chickenpox.

While there was initial concern regarding the vaccine's safety and effectiveness when first released, the vaccination is gaining acceptance as numerous states require it for admittance into daycare or public school.

In 2000, 59% of toddlers in the United States were immunized; up from 43.2% in 1998.

A study published in 2001 indicates that the varicella vaccine is highly effective when used in clinical practice.

Although evidence has not ruled out a booster shot later in life, all research addressing the vaccine's effectiveness throughout its six-year use indicates that chickenpox may be the first human herpes virus to be wiped out.

Although initial concerns questioned if the vaccination might make shingles more likely, studies are beginning to show the effectiveness of the vaccine in reducing cases of that disease.

When To Seek Medical Attention For chickenpox

Where children are concerned, especially those with recent exposure to the disease, diagnosis can usually be made at home, by a school nurse, or by a doctor over the telephone if the child's parent or caregiver is unsure that the disease is chickenpox.

A doctor should be called immediately if:

  • The child's fever goes above 102°F (38.9°C) or takes more than four days to disappear.
  • The child's blisters appear infected. Signs of infection include leakage of pus from the blisters or excessive redness, warmth, tenderness, or swelling around the blisters.
  • The child seems nervous, confused, unresponsive, or unusually sleepy; complains of a stiff neck or severe headache; shows signs of poor balance or has trouble walking; finds bright lights hard to look at; is having breathing problems or is coughing a lot; is complaining of chest pain; is vomiting repeatedly; or is having convulsions. These may be signs of Reye's syndrome or encephalitis, two rare but potentially dangerous conditions.


With children, treatment usually takes place in the home and focuses on reducing discomfort and fever. Because chickenpox is a viral disease, antibiotics are ineffective against it.

Applying wet compresses or bathing the child in cool or lukewarm water once a day can help the itch. Adding four to eight ounces of baking soda or one or two cups of oatmeal to the bath is a good idea (oatmeal bath packets are sold by pharmacies). Only mild soap should be used in the bath. Patting, not rubbing, is recommended for drying the child off, to prevent irritating the blisters. Calamine lotion (and some other kinds of lotions) also help to reduce itchiness. Because scratching can cause blisters to become infected and lead to scarring, the child's nails should be cut short. Of course, older children need to be warned not to scratch. For babies, light mittens or socks on the hands can help guard against scratching.

If mouth blisters make eating or drinking an unpleasant experience, cold drinks and soft, bland foods can ease the child's discomfort. Painful genital blisters can be treated with an anesthetic cream recommended by a doctor or pharmacist. Antibiotics often are prescribed if blisters become infected.

Fever and discomfort can be reduced by acetaminophen or another medication that does not contain aspirin. Aspirin and any medications that contain aspirin or other salicylates must not be used with chickenpox, for they appear to increase the chances of developing Reye's syndrome. The best idea is to consult a doctor or pharmacist if unsure about which medications are safe.

Immunocompromised chickenpox sufferers are sometimes given an antiviral drug called acyclovir (Zovirax). Studies have shown that Zovirax also lessens the symptoms of otherwise healthy children and adults who contract chickenpox, but the suggestion that it should be used to treat the disease among the general population, especially in children, is controversial.

Self Care strategies for Living with chickenpox

Alternative practitioners seek to lessen the discomfort and fever caused by chickenpox.

Like other practitioners, they suggest cool or lukewarm baths.

Rolled oats (Avena sativa) in the bath water help relieve itching.

(Oats should be placed in a sock, that is turned in the bath water to release the milky anti-itch properties.)

Other recommended remedies for itching include applying aloe vera, witch hazel, or herbal preparations of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and calendula (Calendual officinalis) to the blisters.

Homeopathic remedies are selected on a case by case basis.

Some common remedy choices are tartar emetic (antimonium tartaricum), windflower (pulsatilla), poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron), and sulphur.


Most cases of chickenpox run their course within a week without causing lasting harm.

However, there is one long-term consequence of chickenpox that strikes about 20% of the population, particularly people 50 and older.

Like all herpes viruses, the varicella-zoster virus never leaves the body after an episode of chickenpox, but lies dormant in the nerve cells, where it may be reactivated years later by disease or age-related weakening of the immune system.

The result is shingles (also called herpes zoster), a painful nerve inflammation, accompanied by a rash, that usually affects the trunk or the face for 10 days or more.

Especially in the elderly, pain, called postherpetic neuralgia, may persist at the site of the shingles for months or years.

Two relatively newer drugs for treatment of shingles have become available. Both valacyclovir (Valtrex) and famciclovir (Famvir) stop the replication of herpes zoster when administered within 72 hours of appearance of the rash.

The effectiveness of these two drugs in immunocompromised patients has not been established, and Famvir was not recommended for patients under 18 years.

Vitamin & Nutrient Associations

Even when we try to eat well, we're disadvantaged. The nutritional content of most food has been compromised over the years, not only by deficient soils and modern production, transportation, storage and processing methods, but also by the enormous amounts of chemical and artificial substances added to promote growth, storage life, taste and appearance.

It's for this reason that more and more medical authorities are advocating the use of vitamin and mineral supplements. However, finding them in the right combination can be both confusing and costly.

The nutrition products I am going to recommend you make use of knowledge gained from the botanical world's 6,000 year history. They incorporated health building nutritional herbs with the best modern technology to help our bodies cleanse and detoxify so that the cells - the tiniest living units - can be as fully nourished as possible.

This allows the cells to grow, repair and to perform their functions with the best possible efficiency so that we feel and look better and are more able to prevent and fight disease. Once the body begins to clear itself of toxins it can more efficiently absorb nutrition.

Further reading through our articles on health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out.

We wish you well in your search for solutions to this problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.

More Resources available about chickenpox

Below here are examples of Health Success Results other people have had with using a self care strategy for dealing with this condition:

We would be very interested to hear your result stories with your problem if you are using some of our nutrition products. To send us your story just fill out the form below.

Share *YOUR* remedy & health success story!

We are on a world-wide mission to source and tell our readers about as many as possible of the natural remedies & self care strategies available, so please help us to grow and improve our health information on this subject.

If you have a proven home remedy or natural treatment or have a great Health Success story, we would love to share it with our readers.

And as a special "Thank You" for your contribution, we will give you our special edition "Health Success Report"!

(When you submit this article you agree to the ***GENERAL RELEASE below this form)


For good and valuable consideration, the receipt and legal sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, I ("I", "me", "my") hereby agree as follows:

1) I hereby grant to Warren Tattersall, his successors, assignees and licensees the unlimited right, but not the obligation, to use any statements made by or attributed to me (my "Statements") as well as my name, voice, and likeness, performance, personal characteristics and other identifying information (jointly and severally with the Statements and the photographs referenced in Paragraph 2 below, my "Personal Characteristics") in and in connection with the advertising, promotion, marketing and other exploitation of Herbalife products or Warren Tattersall’s services in any and all languages and media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe in perpetuity.

2) If I supply Warren Tattersall with photographs of myself on this date or any date subsequent, I agree that Warren Tattersall may use such photographs to the full extent provided above, I warrant and represent that I am the person depicted in the photograph, I am the owner of the photograph, I have the authority to grant the permission and rights granted herein, and no one else’s permission is required to grant such rights, and I understand that the copy of the photograph(s) I supply to Warren Tattersall will not be returned.

3) I understand that Warren Tattersall is not obligated to use my Personal Characteristics as permitted herein or, if commenced, to continue with such use in any territory. I acknowledge and agree that Warren Tattersall may make my Personal Characteristics available to Warren Tattersall’s independent distributors to use as permitted above.

4) In undertaking the act of submitting my words and images through www.TheHealthSuccessSite.com I understand that I am agreeing the terms and conditions of this agreement

I have read this entire General Release and Assignment and fully understand his contents. I likewise understand that this document shall remain in full force and effect unless/until I request that it be terminated, and that any such request must be made in a signed writing. By signing below, I hereby acknowledge and agree to the foregoing.

I understand that in submitting my material for publication I am granting the rights to reproduce this material on the internet or in other form and I have read the conditions above

BACK TO “Your Health Online”
the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & Self Care Strategies for natural remedies to your health issues.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Site Map

SITE DISCLAIMER: Do these products “cure” anything? Of course not… but it stands to reason that if you cleanse your body and feed it the finest nutrition available, giving it everything it needs in balance, on a daily basis, that your body will do what nature intended, and give you the best possible chance to fend off sickness and disease.

This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.

The resources on this site are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. While all attempts have been made to verify information provided in this publication, neither the author nor the publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the web site subject matter herein.

The site  contents are solely the opinion of the authors and should not be considered as a form of advice, direction and/or recommendation of any kind. If expert advice or counseling is needed, services of a competent professional should be sought. The author and the Publisher assume no responsibility or liability and specifically disclaim any warranty, express or implied for any products or services mentioned, or any techniques or practices described.

The purchaser or reader of this publication assumes responsibility for the use of these materials and information. Neither the author nor the Publisher assumes any responsibility or liability whatsoever on the behalf of any purchaser or reader of these nutritional supplements materials. There is no guarantee of validity of accuracy. Any perceived slight of specific people or organizations is unintentional.

This website and its creators are not responsible for the content of any sites linked to. Since natural and/or dietary supplements are not FDA approved they must be accompanied by a two-part disclaimer on the product label: that the statement has not been evaluated by FDA and that the product is not intended to "diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."

Back-to-Directory BACK TO “Your Health Online”
the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & Self Care Strategies for natural remedies to your health issues.

Subscribe to get your weekly "Health Success Magazine" with a new complete & comprehensive Health Report in every edition!

to “Your Health Success”
our weekly F’R’E’E’ Newsletter

If you would like a free no-obligation private consultation or to contact Warren Tattersall for more information, please click here >> Contact Us

To contact Warren Tattersall for more information, please click here >> Contact Us