Chickenpox in adults: a serious illness

Health Tips

Did you have chickenpox as a child? Ask your parents in detail, and if you have not been ill, you should get vaccinated against chickenpox. Fortunately, now they are quite affordable. This is especially important if you have small children who attend kindergarten. The chances of catching chickenpox there and bringing it home, infecting you, are very high.

It is extremely important to get vaccinated against chickenpox if you plan to become pregnant again and give birth – during pregnancy chickenpox is dangerous not only for mom. A child can get severe lesions and deformities in utero.

Chickenpox – a childhood infection?

Yes, children’s, but it is called that not because adults do not get sick with it, but because it occurs most often in childhood. In adults, if they did not suffer from it, immunity chickenpox is not, and they can easily become infected.

Chickenpox is so named because it is very volatile and spreads through the air, infecting almost everyone who is not vaccinated and has not been ill with it. And it is also unpleasant because children can be contagious even 2-3 days before the rash appears, and can infect you without even knowing it.

If chickenpox in children proceeds relatively favorably and rarely gives complications, then adults are less fortunate. With rare exceptions, their chickenpox occurs in moderate or severe form, and the older the person, the harder it will pass.

Features of the virus

The varicella-zoster virus belongs to the herpes family, it is small and easily carried by the wind through ventilation and from room to room. You can become infected when communicating with patients or those at the end of the incubation period, you can catch the virus even just by walking down the corridor after them or riding in the elevator.

By the way, not only children with “green peas” are dangerous for you, but also adults with exacerbation of shingles – this is also a chickenpox virus, only in adults it also manifests itself in this way.

Often, chickenpox occurs in adult closed groups – in soldiers’ barracks, sanatoriums, nursing homes or hostels. Then they are closed for quarantine, and patients can be placed in a hospital.

How does chickenpox manifest itself

In most people, chickenpox begins abruptly and acutely, in rare cases there may be episodes of malaise a couple of days before the onset of the main clinic of rashes and fever.

First signs – this is a sharp jump in temperature up to 39-40 ° C and the appearance of large red tubercles on the body – usually 1-3 pieces. This is accompanied by a sharp headache, weakness and aching in the bones and joints.

The tubercles quickly turn into bubbles with a liquid that becomes cloudy, its center is retracted and forms a crust.

For the first day, rashes quickly appear on the face, body and even head, genitals. Rashes appear for about 3-4 days and are very itchy, depriving a person of sleep. The amount of rash in adults is usually much greater than in children – the elements cover the entire face and body.

The process of spreading the rash proceeds with severe fever, and if no measures are taken, it lasts for more than a week. In addition, many elements appear on the mucous membranes in the mouth and nose, rashes may appear on the mucous membranes of the eyes. These elements can quickly open, and extremely painful sores form in place of the bubbles. When sores are located on the genitals, pain and burning sensation occur when urinating.

In adults, the lymph nodes react sharply to chickenpox – especially behind the ears and neck, they increase to a size visible to the eye and are tense, painful. Internal organs in an uncomplicated course of the disease are not affected.

But chickenpox in adults is insidious and gives very serious complications – this is the development of pneumonia, difficult to treat, meningitis, with all the ensuing consequences, and the most dangerous – due to the development of ulcers on the cornea, partial visual impairment and even its complete loss.

In addition, scratching and infection of wounds is the most dangerous during the period of rashes – in adults, the risk of infection is much higher than in children. This can lead to the formation of scars on the skin, prolonged healing and the occurrence of bacterial complications.

Treatment and prevention of chickenpox

How is chickenpox treated in adults?

With chickenpox, you can not go to the clinic – you can infect many other patients. You need to call a doctor at home and exclude all contact with other people for a period until the crusts dry out.

If your child is ill and you have not had chickenpox, you will be quarantined at home for 21 days – as it should be, and for this time you will be given a sick leave.

In moderate forms of chickenpox, symptoms are usually treated – antihistamines are used to relieve itching. Local therapy for the prevention of infection – treatment with antiseptics, calamine lotion.

And do not forget that the recommendations not to wash for three weeks are a thing of the past (this was done because of public baths) – it is necessary to take a hygienic shower with soap, but without the use of sponges and washcloths. Lubrication of vesicles with brilliant green is also not a method of treatment; elements can be treated with colorless antiseptics.

In severe forms, in addition to antipyretics and antihistamines, antibiotics are used, they provide protection against the addition of bacterial complications in the form of pneumonia. Strict bed rest is important for the entire period of indisposition, plentiful drinking and hygiene.

How to protect yourself from chickenpox?

There is a solution – if you have not had chickenpox and you have a high chance of catching it – vaccination centers offer a chickenpox vaccine for you. It is given once with a simple injection in the shoulder and protects for up to 5-6 years, it is easily tolerated, unlike chickenpox itself. And does not give complications. True, it is not cheap, about 1,500 rubles – but during the sick leave you can lose much more money at work. Therefore, if you are afraid of chickenpox, consider this option.

Alena PARETSKAYA,
general practitioner

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