Chickenpox is a highly infectious disease caused by one of a group of viruses called the Herpes viruses. There are many different types of Herpes virus, but one feature which they all have is that they lie dormant in the body after the initial infection, and can reactivate much later. The disease caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus is known as shingles and it may occur when the immune system is run down.
Some children will have a high temperature whilst others may be simply a bit off colour. The rash starts as little red spots developing tiny blisters on the top within a few hours. They usually start on the face and trunk and spread to other parts of the body appearing in crops. There may be so many spots that they will appear to run into one another. They are particularly sore on the scalp, in the mouth and throat and around the vulval area.
Is it dangerous for pregnant women?
Infectious children should be kept away from pregnant women who have not had chicken pox before as it can cause problems for the unborn baby. Very young babies and children whose immune system is deficient are also at risk.
Is there any treatment?
There is no specific treatment for chickenpox although recent research using anti-viral drugs in the very early stages of the illness has shown slight benefit.