Why Are Antibiotics Effective To Cure Chickenpox?

Chickenpox in adults: infection, symptoms, treatment

Almost everyone will get chickenpox in their lifetime. The disease occurs less often in adulthood, but then it is often more severe than in children. This is how you can protect yourself from infection.

Chickenpox (varicella) is caused by varicella-zoster viruses and is highly contagious. Most children get chickenpox, but adults can also become infected. Either through an initial infection or because dormant viruses become active again. Then the disease can become a health risk.

Chickenpox in children is a skin rash with small, itchy, fluid-filled blisters and a fever. The varicella zoster viruses (VZV) that cause chickenpox belong to the herpes virus family. Not only are they highly contagious, but they are also not that easy to drive away. After the illness has been overcome, they remain in the body and can become active again years later. Then they show up again as a rash: usually in the form of painful shingles (herpes zoster).

What is chickenpox?

The chickenpox vaccination has reduced the disease in Germany, but chickenpox is still one of the most common childhood diseases. Adults can get chickenpox too. Shingles is also common: According to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), one in five adults will develop it in the course of their life.

In shingles, the blisters are usually belt-shaped on the trunk on one side of the body. The neck and head are less often affected. The vesicles usually heal after two weeks, but complications such as brain and nerve infections can also occur.

Chickenpox causes: how is chickenpox transmitted?

Chickenpox viruses are highly contagious and - as the name suggests - can even be transmitted through the air over several meters. Most of the time, the pathogens get into the airways by inhaling the smallest droplets of saliva. According to the BZgA, almost every contact between an unprotected person and a sick person leads to infection. The fluid in the blisters of the rash is also highly contagious.

Shingles is transmitted via smear infection

Shingles is less contagious than chickenpox. As reported by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), there is no transmission via droplets in the air, but via the fluid in the shingles blisters. The main route of transmission in shingles is therefore the smear infection. The viruses are passed on via the hands and can survive for several days on surfaces such as door handles, taps and banisters. Anyone who has not yet had chickenpox and is not vaccinated can become infected with shingles and get a chickenpox infection.

Chickenpox in pregnancy

Chickenpox is a great risk for the unborn child during pregnancy. Malformations, neurological diseases or eye damage can occur in the child. Around the due date, chickenpox infection can even become life-threatening for the newborn. According to the BZgA, 30 percent of children die. Shingles in the mother, however, poses no danger to the unborn child.

Chickenpox symptoms: how to recognize chickenpox on the skin

Chickenpox starts slowly. First of all, those affected feel a slight feeling of illness for a day or two, which can be accompanied by headache and body aches, fever and malaise. Then the itchy blisters form and spread all over the body. The fever rises. After three to five days, the blisters heal with crust formation. Scratching can delay healing and lead to small scars.

Concomitant diseases of chickenpox

Severe chickenpox courses are mainly found in children, the elderly and people with a weakened immune system. In addition to bacterial skin infections, it is estimated that one in five adults develops pneumonia as a concomitant disease of chickenpox. It usually shows up three to five days after the chickenpox outbreak. The course can be difficult. Pneumonia is particularly dangerous for pregnant women.

Other possible comorbidities of chickenpox are:

  • Myocarditis
  • Meningitis
  • arthritis
  • hepatitis
  • Bleeding tendency
  • Inflammation of the kidneys

Chickenpox: how long is it contagious?

The incubation period of chickenpox is between one and four weeks after infection. Those affected are contagious one to two days before the rash forms. The risk of infection is only averted when all the blisters are encrusted. This also applies to shingles.

How often can you get chickenpox?

Anyone who has survived chickenpox is usually immune - but can develop shingles years later.

This is what the therapy for chickenpox looks like

The best treatment for chickenpox is bed rest because the entire body needs rest. There are no drugs for chickenpox. Only the symptoms can be treated. Antipruritic ointments and baths play an important role in preventing scratching, scarring and bacterial infections. Because chickenpox is caused by viruses, antibiotics are ineffective. Antiviral drugs are mostly used in immunocompromised people.

Preventing chickenpox: vaccination as the most important protective measure

The best prevention is vaccination. The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends that children first vaccinate from the age of eleven months. Women who are trying to get pregnant and have not yet been vaccinated are also advised to vaccinate. People who

  • are active in the health service or community facilities,
  • have a weakened immune system,
  • are about to undergo immunosuppressive therapy or an organ transplant or
  • have severe eczema

But: Even vaccinated people can get chickenpox. However, this is rather rare and the disease is usually milder.

This is how you protect yourself and others

An overview of important protective measures in addition to the chickenpox vaccination:

  • If your child has chickenpox, inform the relevant institution and leave your child at home.
  • As an adult, avoid contact with people with chickenpox if you have never had chickenpox yourself.
  • Wash your hands regularly to rinse off any viruses you pick up from shaking hands, door handles, and so on.
  • Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems should contact a doctor if they have had contact with infected people. Then the administration of antibodies is possible.
  • You can still get vaccinated within five days of contact with someone who has chickenpox. This can prevent the outbreak or at least lessen the course of the disease. However, pregnant women can no longer be vaccinated.
  • If you have chickenpox yourself, stay at home and avoid contact with people who are not yet sick.
  • Before you see a doctor, call the practice and report if you have chickenpox.

Important NOTE: The information is in no way a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.