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Chicken Pox

by: Tanya Perez Chua, MD, FPDS

What is chicken pox?

Varicella infection, more commonly known as chicken pox, is a viral disease that affects the skin.  Sometimes it also affects the mucosa which includes the lining of the mouth, eyes, throat.  Unhealthy individuals can also have pneumonia.  

How do you catch chicken pox?

The varicella zoster virus is the causative agent of this disease.  It is spread airborne. It takes 2 weeks from the time you catch it until you see skin lesions.  A person is already infectious for 1-2 days before the rashes appear.  

How do I know that my rashes are chicken pox?  

The rashes of chicken pox are called vesicles.  Vesicles are bumps fiilled with water.  The bases of the vesicles are also red in color.  As they dry up, they form scabs or crusts.  The vesicles appear in groups or crops.  They usually appear on the face first first then spread rapidly to the trunk.

Why is it called chicken pox?

This virus heals with “pock scars” which are depressed in appearance.  These are permanent.  Early treatment of chicken pox and early treatment of the scar may help improve the scars.  Consult a board certified dermatologist.

Does chicken pox happen again?

Chicken pox may happen again in the form of herpes zoster or shingles.  A person who has had chicken pox may get zoster when he is exposed to a person with chicken pox or zoster also.  Zoster also happens when the immune system is weak.

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