Health In Asia – Medical Information by doctors for people living in Asia

WHAT is it?

This is otherwise known as ‘varicella’ and is a highly contagious viral illness affecting mainly children. It is spread by droplets from the nose or mouth, or from direct contact with the rash. The incubation period is about 12-21 days. A person is infectious from 24 hours before the rash appears until the last blisters scab over (usually about 7 days). A person should not develop chickenpox a second time, though they may get shingles later in life.

What side your appendix on – WHAT are the symptoms?

Children usually have mild fever first and then become covered in spots. The spots are fluid filled blisters at first and then scab over to form open sores, and are usually quite itchy. Children are not sick with this. However, adults can be extremely unwell with a flu-like illness as well as the rash. Some adults even need to be put in a hospital.


For children, the treatment consists of paracetamol if there is a fever and easing the itch. The best way to achieve this is by regular warm (but not hot) baths, followed by the application of Calamine lotion. Sodium bicarbonate (half a cup) or a stocking filled with rolled oats can be used in the bath water. You can also give your child antihistamine syrup to ease the itching. Fingernails should be cut, and scratching avoided at all costs, as this can cause the sores to become secondarily infected and lead to scarring. The school will need to be missed until the last sores have crusted over.

Early treatment with an antiviral drug e.g. Zovirax, can make a significant difference in the length and severity of the illness, and prevent more severe complications like pneumonia. Bed rest is usually required, as well as pain relief for the flu-like aches.

PREVENT it:           

There is a chickenpox vaccine which is now available. It can be given to children from 12 months of age and seems to be extremely useful in providing life-long immunity. There is a tiny chance that the child could still get chickenpox, but it would be a minor case.


If you are an adult who has not had chickenpox, you should first have your blood antibody levels tested. This will tell you if you have any immunity or not. If not, you should have the vaccination (a course of 2 shots) as soon as possible, especially if you are around children. Chickenpox as an adult is to be avoided at all costs, and especially during pregnancy. Read more about pregnancy symptoms and causes at