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Chickenpox: adults also get sick

Despite the fact that chicken pox, or, as it is popularly called, chickenpox, has been considered a childhood disease for centuries, this does not mean that an adult will not be able to get it. And if at preschool and younger school age, this infection is easy and fast, then adults usually get sick for a long time and hard. The older the person, the greater the risk of complications.


What is chicken pox

Chickenpox is an infectious disease characterized by high contagion. The causative agent of chickenpox is a virus called Varicella zoster. It belongs to the group of microorganisms that cause herpes, spreads through airborne droplets and can easily move a distance of several meters. Due to its microscopic size, the virus easily gets from the air from one room to another. It can penetrate into the apartment, even through the ventilation ducts.

It is for the volatility, "frivolity" of the virus, the disease got its name.

The disease manifests itself in the form of specific lesions on the skin and mucous membranes. Characterized by general intoxication of the body. The peak activity of the virus falls in the autumn-winter season. At risk are adults working with children: kindergarten teachers and nannies, teachers, doctors.

Chicken pox sick once in my life. Having been ill with it in childhood, a person acquires resistant immunity to this disease. However, in medical practice, there were still isolated cases of recurrent disease. Secondary chickenpox occurs in a very mild form, there are few rash elements, and they practically do not bother the patient. Therefore, getting sick again, a person may never know that he has chickenpox. However, it poses a potential threat to others.

The virus Varicella zoster remains to “doze” in the body of the patient, and someday. under the influence of provoking factors, it can be activated, causing its already adult carrier suffering in the form of an extremely unpleasant phenomenon - shingles. The latter is characterized by unbearable burning sensation and is not limited to one case of the disease in life, but may appear several times.

Varicella zoster virus under the microscope

Varicella zoster virus affects only people, mainly children.

What is dangerous in adults?

Adults are relatively rarely ill. However, for this category of patients, chickenpox is dangerous because of its complications associated with the addition of a secondary infection:

  • sepsis (blood poisoning);
  • bacterial infection of the skin caused by staphylococci and streptococci (boils, carbuncles);
  • pyelonephritis (kidney damage);
  • varicella pneumonia (pneumonia), laryngitis or tracheitis, accompanied by cough and pain in the chest and throat;
  • hepatitis (liver disease);
  • diseases of the nervous system;
  • loss of vision (optic neuritis with involvement of the eye membranes in the process);
  • stomatitis - with the defeat of the chicken pox of the mouth;
  • myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle);
  • osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bones);
  • arthritis or arthrosis (joint disease);
  • vulvovaginitis in women or balanoposthitis in men when the varicella rash is located in the intimate area;
  • meningitis or encephalitis (diseases of the brain).
Effect of varicella zoster virus on human skin

Sleeping varicella-zoster virus can live in the human body for many years and “wake up” while lowering immunity, causing neurological disorders

Causes of chickenpox in adults

The chickenpox pathogen, although famous for its increased infectiousness and volatility, quickly dies outside the human body. It is impossible to catch chickenpox through household items or through third parties . The source of infection is always only a sick person.

However, it is not necessary that when in contact with a sick person, a healthy person will certainly become infected. It all depends on the state of immunity, which in adults is much stronger than in children. But sometimes he is weakened by the strong neuropsychic experiences, a recent severe illness, chronic sleep deprivation or malnutrition. Contacting a healthy person with shingles is another way to getting chickenpox.

Very often, an adult gets the varicella-zoster virus from their own children, who have brought the disease from school or kindergarten. The likelihood that a mother who has not previously suffered will become infected while caring for her “chickenpox” child is close to 90%.

The forms, types, stages and symptoms of chickenpox

Chickenpox in adults occurs in two varieties: typical and atypical.

Typical form

A typical chicken pox, the severity of which depends on the duration and manifestations of the disease, is of three types.

Table: Typical Windmill Types

View Temperature Character of rash Other symptoms Duration
Light In the range of 37 - 37.4 ° С Minor rash or single acne in mouth The general condition is not broken 3-4 days
Moderate Up to 39.5 ° C Thick itchy rash Symptoms of general intoxication (headache, nausea, weakness) 5–7 days
Heavy Above 39.5 ° C The whole body is covered with rash, unbearable itching Nausea, vomiting, fatigue, excruciating pain in the head 8 days and longer

Atypical form of windmill

Atypical disease occurs in people with strong immunodeficiency (for example, in AIDS patients). In such patients, there may be deep necrosis of the skin and even internal organs. This form of chicken pox is classified into 4 varieties.

Table: types and symptoms of atypical chickenpox

Kinds Rudimentary Visceral Hemorrhagic Gangrenous
  • temperature is normal;
  • rash forms without subsequent blistering;
  • rarely in adults.
  • hyperthermia (above 40 ° C);
  • severe general intoxication;
  • many large blisters on the skin, mouth and intimate places.
  • blood flows from the nose;
  • internal hemorrhage;
  • vesicles filled with blood throughout the body;
  • blood in feces, urine and vomiting.
  • large ulcers over the entire surface of the body;
  • areas of tissue necrosis in the area of ​​ulcers.

Stages of the disease

For the development of chickenpox, 4 stages are typical.

Incubation (asymptomatic) period

It starts from the moment of contact with the patient and lasts from ten days to three weeks. Chickenpox virus is introduced into the mucous membrane of the nose and pharynx and actively reproduces there. The man still does not know that he is sick.

Prodromal stage

This phase begins with the release of the virus into the general circulation. The patient loses his appetite, weakens, his temperature rises sharply and his state of health worsens. The cervical and parotid lymph nodes are enlarged - this symptom is characteristic only for adults. During this period, the person is already contagious. The prodromal stage lasts 2–3 days and ends with the appearance of the first element of the rash.

Rash phase

This is the main and most active stage of chickenpox. The localization of the virus in the epidermis is accompanied by the appearance of a profuse itchy rash. The temperature is kept at high elevations (38 - 40 ° C). Elements of the rash immediately after the appearance of the skin look like red bumps (papules), but after 3-4 days turn into transparent bubbles filled with fluid (vesicles). The rash unbearably itches, literally forcing a person to roll on the floor. Bursting, vesicles are transformed into small ulcers. Similar rashes can appear on the mucous membranes of the genitals, mouth and eyes. The sores in these places cause severe discomfort and pain.

Chickenpox rash

On the skin of a patient with chickenpox in the “heyday” stage, it is possible to simultaneously see both tubercles, vesicles, sores, and crusts

Recovery period

In the last stage of the disease, the sores dry up and turn into crusts. The latter, having dried, fall away. A scar or a dark spot remains at the site of a former windpour pimple. The largest of them persist for several years. On the body of the patient there can be both red bumps, vesicles, sores, and crusts. Meanwhile, the body produces antibodies to chickenpox that neutralize the causative agent. The patient gradually recovers. After all the crusts disappear, the person ceases to be infectious to those around him . The total duration of varicella in adults, including all its stages, is approximately 3 weeks.

Video: temperature and rash with chickenpox in adults


Diagnosis and treatment of chickenpox engaged therapist or infectious diseases doctor. To diagnose chickenpox a specialist, as a rule, is sufficient external examination of the patient. A typical itchy rash, high fever, general malaise - all this gives reason to suspect chickenpox. And if in the recent past a person had communication with a patient, the diagnosis is beyond doubt.

Currently, the threat of smallpox is almost eliminated. In doubtful cases, when differentiating it from chickenpox, the following points should be taken into account:

  • smallpox begins with fever and severe pain in the sacrum;
  • with the appearance of the first rash (about the 5th day of the disease), the temperature drops;
  • elements of rash with smallpox have an umbilical depression in the center, do not collapse when piercing;
  • rash monomorphic - all the "pock" are at one stage of development;
  • rashes with smallpox are dense and located in the deep layer of the skin.
Smallpox Rash

Fortunately, this terrible disease called “Smallpox,” which once claimed millions of lives, is practically not found today.

After examining the sprinkled skin and measuring the temperature of the patient's body, the doctor should detect possible complications, if they had time to appear. To do this, he listens to the patient's heart, lungs and bronchi, examines his stomach for an increase and pain in the liver and other internal organs. With the typical form of chickenpox, additional analyzes are usually not necessary.

Atypical form of the disease requires a differential diagnosis with such skin pathologies:

  • herpes simplex;
  • streptoderma;
  • allergy;
  • vesicular rickettsiosis (spotted fever);
  • dermatitis;
  • strophulus (pruritus adults).

The following laboratory tests are performed to diagnose chickenpox:

  1. Virusoscopy is the examination under the microscope of a colored fluid taken from vesicles.
  2. Serological examination - determination of antibodies to the Varicella zoster virus in the patient’s blood. If their number increases over time, this indicates the presence of chickenpox.
  3. Blood test. Usually without deviation, or slightly increased ESR, which indicates an inflammatory process in the body.
  4. Analysis of urine. The appearance of non-normal changes in the latter serves as a marker of renal complications that have arisen.


A patient with a severe or atypical form of the disease or with developed complications needs to be hospitalized. Treatment for typical chickenpox in adults is carried out at home. The patient must be isolated from healthy people who have not been ill before. It is important to follow all the doctor's instructions. In the prodromal phase, as well as in the stage of rash at high temperature, the patient should lie in bed. It is necessary to limit him to any load. This will reduce the risk of undesirable effects. Underwear and bedding should be changed every day.

It is necessary to drink as much fluid as possible (up to 3 liters per day, if there are no contraindications), in order to quickly expel the varicella from the body. Hand washing should be done every hour to prevent infection in the elements of the rash when combing. Nails should be cut short. Sweating should be avoided - it intensifies itching.

Medicines for adults

Drugs for oral administration or injection prescribed by a doctor as needed. It may be drugs of such action:

  1. Antiviral - Acyclovir, Amixin, Kagocel, Valacyclovir, Cycloferon, Valtrex, Famciclovir. They stop the formation of DNA, which is necessary for the reproduction of the virus Varicella zoster.
  2. Antipyretic (used at temperatures above 38.5 degrees) - Aspirin, Ibuprofen and drugs on the basis of paracetamol. Reduce the temperature, have an anti-inflammatory effect.
  3. Antihistamines - Suprastin, Tavegil, Loratadin, Diazolin. They soothe, reduce itching, block allergic reactions, have a slight hypnotic effect.
  4. Chickenpox Virus Immunoglobulin - Zostevir. The drug is made from the blood serum of a person who has had chickenpox. It binds the virus, facilitates the course of the disease and shortens the stage of rash.
  5. Antibacterial - Cefazolin, Oxacillin. They are prescribed in case of addition of purulent infection. Stop the proliferation of bacteria.
  6. Detoxification - Reopoliglyukin, glucose solution 5%. Accelerate blood flow, cleanse the body of toxins, bring them out.

Means for the external processing of varicella:

  • Gerpevir, Acyclovir - antiviral ointments;
  • zinc ointment, Calamine lotion, Zindol talker, Fenistil gel, relieve itching;
  • brilliant green, Fukortsin used to disinfect a rash;
  • Furacilin, Miramistin, potassium permanganate - for rinsing the mouth and washing the genitals;
  • Delaksin cream or powder - to dry the rash and reduce itching.
Fuzzorin-smeared varicella on the face

For many years, fukortsin has traditionally been considered one of the most reliable disinfectants

Chickenpox patient nutrition

In the diet of the patient should be easily digestible food. Since the disease is accompanied by high fever and general intoxication, the person's appetite decreases, but the fight against the disease requires a significant expenditure of energy. Therefore, the menu for chickenpox should ensure the supply of a sufficient amount of nutrients, trace elements, vitamins and fluids. If the mouth and respiratory tract are damaged, food should be served in a semi-liquid or rubbed condition. It is necessary to limit the sweet - it can promote the growth of bacteria on the skin.

Recommended for the acute stage of the disease:

  • cereal and vegetable soups;
  • weak fish or meat broths;
  • dairy products;
  • steam meatballs and patties;
  • mashed potatoes, stewed and boiled vegetables;
  • boiled fish or chicken;
  • non-acidic, soft fruits and compote of them;
  • steam omelette or scrambled eggs.

Patients with chickenpox, especially those who take antiviral drugs, need to drink plenty of flu for the rapid removal of the virus from the body. You can drink the usual warm water, as well as a weak tea with viburnum or lemon, fruit jelly and fruit drinks, rosehip decoction.

Under the ban for the patient should be:

  • spicy, spicy seasonings and spices;
  • pickles, pickles;
  • onion, radish, garlic;
  • fatty and fried foods;
  • coffee and strong tea;
  • alcoholic beverages;
  • all foods that caused allergies before the illness.

When the mucous membrane of the mouth is cleared of rashes and the temperature drops to normal figures, the patient can return to his usual diet.

Folk remedies

With the help of folk treatment methods, you can increase the body's defenses and help it to quickly get rid of chickenpox intoxication. Herbal drinks are taken by mouth. Below are some of the remedies for chickenpox:

  1. Vitamin drink from celery juice and orange. From 1 root and 1 citrus fruit squeeze out the juice, mix and take it before meals all at once.
  2. A glass of blueberries, eaten during the day, will support the patient's immunity.
  3. In case of rashes on mucous membranes, rinse your mouth with infusion of sage or soda water (1 tsp. Of baking soda per cup of boiled water). The same tool can wash the genitals.
  4. Herbal collection №1. Equal amounts of chamomile flowers, calendula, grass succession mix. Pour 5 tablespoons of a mixture of 1 l of water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. Take half a cup 4 times a day, half an hour before meals.
  5. Collection of medicinal plants №2. Dry leaves of raspberry, linden flowers, willow bark, finely chopped and mixed in the same proportions. Pour 4 tablespoons of the collection of 1 liter of boiling water and let it brew for 40 minutes. Take half a cup 3-4 times a day before meals.
  6. Drink with mumiyo. 1 teaspoon of this medicinal raw material is diluted in half a glass of lukewarm water and drink the product in the morning before breakfast. This drink perfectly strengthens the immune system and accelerates the healing of wounds.
  7. Honey drink with lemon. Juice of 1 fruit and a teaspoon of honey diluted in 1 liter of water. Drink several times a day.

The same drink can be prepared with milk and without lemon juice.

Photo Gallery: folk remedies for ingestion

Therapeutic Bath Additives

And you can also add decoctions and infusions of medicinal plants in the bath water - they reduce itching and inflammation of the elements of the rash. Baths should not be taken at high temperatures!

Preparation of bath products:

  1. A bath with a decoction of oats, taken at night, will reduce the itching of the skin. For cooking, boil 500 grams of unrefined oats in 3 liters of water for half an hour. Cool and strain the broth in the bath water. The tool quickly loses healing properties, so every time you need to cook fresh.
  2. A bath with chamomile, calendula, oak bark or celandine will relieve itching, reduce the risk of ulcers, soothe the skin and nervous system. 4 tablespoons of raw materials pour 2 liters of water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat and let stand for half an hour. Ready infusion filter and pour into the tub. You can add a few drops of bergamot essential oil or tea tree.

You can use a mixture of these plants, and each of them separately.

Baking soda, a few crystals of potassium permanganate or 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar will also reduce itching. The tar soap is well established among the people - gentle soaping of inflamed skin with it dries and heals elements of the rash.

Tar soap for chickenpox

Lathering with tar soap on inflamed skin with chickenpox accelerates the healing of lesions.

Is it possible to wash with chicken pox?

The question of whether it is possible to wash the head and body in the presence of chickenpox eruptions is the subject of heated debate. Naturally, any person feels better when he is clean, and not to bathe for 2–3 weeks (the illness lasts on average) is very problematic.

Today, most doctors have come to the conclusion that swimming during chickenpox is not only possible, but necessary, under one condition: the acute stage of the disease, characterized by high fever, chills and symptoms of general intoxication, must be left behind.

Water treatments have a positive effect on the skin, cleanse and soothe it. You can take both a shower and a bath. However, there are a number of rules for swimming during chickenpox, which must be strictly followed:

  1. Do not wash with hot water. Water temperature should be comfortable (35–40 degrees).
  2. It is not recommended to use ordinary soap - both solid and liquid. It is better to soap the body with a neutral shower gel. Most suitable for chickenpox gentle gel-cream for bathing infants.
  3. Do not use loofah or scrubs, so as not to violate the integrity of the vesicles. You can lighten the inflamed skin only with your palm.
  4. The head can be washed with a mild baby shampoo, gently massaging its hairy part with the fingers without using nails.
  5. After bathing, do not rub the body with a towel, especially hard. Peeling vesicles and crusts can lead to infection of wounds and the development of purulent complications. The skin needs only to get wet with a soft flannel diaper. Long hair should be squeezed and let it dry on its own. Can not be used for drying hot hair dryer!

Prevention of Chicken Pox in Adults

To prevent chickenpox, you need to protect yourself from contact with a sick person. If a family member is sick, he should be provided with a separate room, dishes and hygiene items. In the apartment where the patient lives, it is necessary to do wet cleaning every day. Healthy households who have not been ill before, it is recommended to wear a gauze mask at home, which must be changed every day, washed and ironed with a hot iron.

If contact with chickenpox patients still could not be avoided, then you can take emergency preventive measures - go to a medical institution for the introduction of immunoglobulin against chicken pox. Such an action makes sense only if no more than three days have passed since the moment of contact.

If desired, adults can be vaccinated against chickenpox. It is performed in two injections with a break between them for 1.5 - 2 months. The chickenpox vaccine contains the weak live virus Varicella zoster. Vaccination can be applied both routinely and urgently.

As a side effect after vaccination, slight signs of chickenpox and a slight increase in temperature may appear. However, in the overwhelming majority of cases, vaccination against chickenpox is easily and painlessly tolerated by adults. It is worth thinking about the feasibility of vaccination only to those people who are allergic to any components of this vaccine. And still need to remember its rather high cost.

Video: symptoms, prevention, treatment of chicken pox and shingles

Chickenpox in adults is quite a difficult and painful malaise. But in the arsenal of modern medicine there is a wide choice of medicines and folk remedies that can alleviate the condition of the patient. And if a person has become infected, he should protect others from infection as much as possible. It is necessary to take a sick-list and stay at home until the last crust disappears, and also to make every effort for a speedy and complete recovery.


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