Munson Health
 
Chickenpox

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by Alan R

(Varicella)

 

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance of getting chickenpox include:
 

Treatment

Chickenpox is mild in most people. It will naturally run its course. In these cases, treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics cannot cure infections caused by a virus. They may be given if the rash becomes infected with bacteria.

Antiviral Medication

The course, severity, and duration of the infection may be reduced by antiviral medications, such as:
  • Acyclovir
  • Valacyclovir
  • Famciclovir
They are often used in:
  • Adolescents, adults, and individuals with weak immune systems
  • Individuals with chronic skin or lung diseases and those taking aspirin or steroids

Special Needs

Varicella-zoster immune globulin is often given immediately after exposure. It is reserved for newborns and people with weak immune systems.
 

Prevention

Avoid contact with anyone who has chickenpox. This is very important if you have not been vaccinated against the infection.

Vaccination in Children

The varicella vaccine , or a combination vaccine called MMRV, is recommended for most children. MMRV protects against measles , mumps , rubella , and varicella.
There is a catch-up schedule if your child has missed the routine injections.

Vaccination in Adults

Adults who have never had chickenpox or received the varicella vaccine should be vaccinated.

Vaccination After Exposure

If you or your child has not been vaccinated, but are exposed to chickenpox, a vaccine given right away may help lessen the severity of the infection, or prevent the infection.
If you or your child has not been vaccinated, but are exposed to chickenpox, a vaccine given right away may help lessen the severity of the infection, or prevent the infection.
 

RESOURCES

American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

AboutKidsHealth
http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca

College of Family Physicians of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca

 

References


Baker CJ, Pickerling LK, et al. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Recommended adult immunization schedule: United States, 2011. Ann Intern Med . 2011;154(3):168-173.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years—United States, 2011. MMWR . 2011;60(5).


Gales SA, Sweet A, et al. The safety profile of varicella vaccine: a 10-year review. J Infect Dis . 2008;197(Suppl2):S165-9).


Marin M, Meissner HC, et al. Varicella prevention in the United States: a review of successes and challenges. Pediatrics . 2008;122: e744-51.


A New Product (VariZIG) for Postexposure Prophylaxis of Varicalla Available under an Investigational New Drug Application Expanded Access Protocol. MMWR . 2006;55: 209-210.


Skull SA, Wang EE. Varicella vaccination: a critical review of the evidence. Arch Dis Child . 2001;85:83-90.


Varicella (chickenpox) vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/varicella/default.htm . Accessed May 30, 2013.


Vazquez M, LaRussa PS, et al. Effectiveness over time of varicella vaccine. JAMA . 2004;291:851-855.


1/31/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years—United States, 2008. MMWR . 2008;57;Q1-Q4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MMWR website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5701a8.htm . Updated January 10, 2008. Accessed January 28, 2008.


10/14/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Macartney K, McIntryre P. Vaccines for post-exposure prophylaxis against varicella (chickenpox) in children and adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev . 2008;(3):CD001833.

 

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