Varicella, more commonly known as chickenpox, is a viral infection that causes an itchy rash with small blisters on the skin and flu-like symptoms. Chickenpox is highly contagious and usually affects children. A red, intensely itchy rash is the hallmark sign of chickenpox and may develop anywhere on the body including the scalp, mouth, arms, legs, trunk and genitals. Symptoms normally begin within 10 – 21 days after exposure to the virus and lasts 1-2 weeks. The varicella vaccine is routinely given to children at the ages of 12 months and 4 years old and is highly effective in preventing the disease.
Chicken pox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus that is transmitted through respiratory droplets. Direct contact with papules and vesicles (not crusts) can also spread the virus. Neonatal varicella is when the mother develops chickenpox during pregnancy and it is spread across the placenta to the fetus. The patient is contagious within 48 hours after exposure and may continue to spread the virus until all spots crust over. Anyone who has not had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine can become infected with exposure to chickenpox or shingles which comes from the same virus. After having chickenpox once, the body creates antibodies to the disease and the virus becomes dormant in the nerve tissue.
Patient will remain comfortable and able to rest; patient will not develop secondary infection.
Get baseline to determine effectiveness of interventions. Note stage of disease: active, fluid filled blisters or scabbed and crusted lesions.
Fever often accompanies a chickenpox outbreak. Other changes in vital signs can indicate development of systemic infection.
Itching leads to scratching and scratching leads to open wounds which are a breeding ground for bacteria and infection.
Keeping the nails short or covered helps prevent scratches in the skin that can lead to infection.
When the body is resting, more energy can be devoted to healing. This can also help to minimize fatigue and discomfort.
To help relieve itching and soothe irritated skin.
** Avoid giving aspirin or other salicylates to children with viral illnesses due to risk for Reye’s Syndrome**
Water is better than sugary drinks to maintain hydration, even if child has little appetite. Children may be more responsive to popsicles for replacement of fluid and electrolytes.
For more information, visit www.nursing.com/cornell
Get unlimited access to lessons and study tools