Chicken pox has been doing the rounds at my 3-year-old’s kindergarten over the past few weeks. It’s a common illness and many people get it when they are children. My 3-year-old caught it from her best friend and wasn’t very pleased about it. She felt very poorly for a few days and didn’t like her itchy spots. She looked at me with a sad face and asked, where do chicken pox come from?
Chicken pox is an infectious illness caused by a kind of germ called a virus. The chicken pox virus is called ‘varicella-zoster virus’ and has absolutely nothing to do with chickens!
The virus makes you feel quite poorly. It can give you a high temperature, make you feel achy and make you feel like you don’t want to eat anything. At first, you might just think you have a cold or other illness, but you know for sure you’ve got chicken pox when the spots come!
The spots start off red and can appear anywhere on your body. Then, they fill with fluid and look like sore blisters. They can feel very itchy and uncomfortable. After a few days, the blisters will dry up and scab over – that’s when you might start to feel better. Eventually the scabs will drop off and your body will look normal again.
Chicken pox is highly contagious, which means that it can spread very easily from one person to another. You can catch chicken pox from someone if they cough or sneeze near you or if you touch the oozy fluid from one of their chicken pox blisters. So, if you have chicken pox, it’s important to stay at home until you are better to avoid passing the virus on to other people.
In most cases, chicken pox will get better within a week or two. If you have chicken pox, you can take paracetamol to keep your temperature down and use cooling creams to stop the spots from itching. But if you are not getting better or the chicken pox gives you a very high temperature, you should see your doctor as you might need extra medicine.
Did you know that chicken pox is worse in grown-ups and can be very dangerous for new-born babies or mummies who are pregnant? And although you can only catch chicken pox once, the varicella-zoster virus can cause another illness called ‘shingles‘ in older people who had chicken pox when they were younger.
Thankfully, the chicken pox has gone from our house now and my daughter is back at kindergarten playing with her friends!