Chickenpox infection causes a rash, itchy blisters that appear from 10 up to 21 days right after the exposure to the virus. These signs generally last around 5 to 10 days. Other signs of Chickenpox, may appear from one to two days before the rash, and includes the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- A feeling of being unwell.
Once the Chickenpox rashes appear, it goes through the three phases as follows:
- Raised red or pink bumps, which break out for several days.
- Small fluid-filled blisters, which form in one day, then they break and leak.
- Scabs and crusts, which cover the broken blisters and can take several days to heal.
- New bumps also continue to appear for several days. It is possible to have all three stages at the same time.
An infected person can spread the virus to others for up to 48 hours before the rash appears since the virus remains transmissible until all broken blisters are crusted over.
Chickenpox disease usually is mild and tends to be mild in healthy children too. But, in severe cases, the rash may cover the whole body. As of lesions, they may form in the eyes, throat, and mucous membranes of the anus, urethra, and vagina.
Since the chickenpox infection can get serious, it can lead to the following complications such as:
- Bacterial infections of the soft tissues, skin, bones, bloodstream, or joints.
- Inflammation of the brain
- Toxic shock syndrome
- Reye's syndrome (mostly in children or teens who take aspirin throughout Chickenpox)
Different stages of symptoms
The early so-called prodromal symptoms in adults and adolescents are aching muscles, nausea, loss of appetite, and headache. These signs are then followed by a rash or malaise, oral sores, and a low-grade fever, which is a signal of the presence of the infection. Oral manifestations of the disease, so-called enanthem, may precede the external rash as well.
Concerning the children, the condition is not always preceded by prodromal symptoms, and the very first sign can be the rash or even the spots in the oral cavity. The rash begins with small red dots on the scalp, face, torso, legs, and upper arms. Those signs are generally progressing within 10–12 hours to small blisters, bumps, and pustules. Then they are followed by the formation of scabs.
At the blister stage, the intensity of itching is generally present. Blisters may occur on the soles, palms, and genital area. Commonly, visible evidence of the virus develops in the tonsil and oral cavity areas in the form of small sores, which tend to be either painful or itchy. These symptoms of the virus appear from 10 up to 21 days after contact with an infected person. Because the virus is airborne, the infected person becomes transmissible one to two days before the recognition of the disease.
Chickenpox is rarely fatal since it is usually more severe in adult men rather than in women or children. The most common late complication of this disease is shingles (also known as herpes zoster), which is caused by reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus after the initial chickenpox infection.
Who's at risk?
People who are at higher risk of virus complications include:
- Newborns, infants whose mothers never had Chickenpox or even the vaccine.
- Adolescents and adults.
- Pregnant women who have not had Chickenpox.
- People who smoke.
- People whose immune systems are weakened mainly by medication or disease (e.g., cancer or HIV).
- People who are taking steroid medications for another condition or disease, such as asthma.