Chickenpox is a highly infections disease caused by the varicella virus. If you have never been immunized against chickenpox or have never had it in the past, there is chance that you will become infected if you are exposed to the virus. The two important precautions to prevent chickenpox are early vaccination and avoiding those who are infected with the virus.
How to Prevent Chickenpox
1. Avoid Contact with Chickenpox Patients
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease that can be spread very easily through direct contact with chickenpox patients, breathing in virus in the air and touching contaminated surface. It would be wise to avoid anyone who has chickenpox to best prevent the illness. Chickenpox can be contagious days before any rash appears and it can be hard to tell if someone has chickenpox before it is too late. If you or your child has chickenpox, stay home from school or work and ensure to remain hydrated. Wearing a surgical mask can help to catch any expelled nasal or oral excretion and therefor limit the chance of the virus spreading.
2. Disinfect Your House and Hands
Another way of learning how to prevent chickenpox is by keeping yourself and your house clean. The virus that causes chickenpox can survive outside the human body,remaining on surfacessuch as door handles, counter tops, toilet seats and railings. Therefore, you need to wash hands frequently to kill any bacteria and disinfect your house after someone who resides within the house is infected with chickenpox. Natural disinfecting agents include white vinegar, salt water, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide and diluted bleach. You should also avoid rubbing your nose, eyes or mouthas this gives the virus on your skin an easy route into your body.
3. Take Antiviral Drugs
Antiviral drugs are sometimes given to chickenpox patients who are at risk of developing further complications to speed up the healing and prevent spreading the virus to others. Speak with a health care professional for further guidance on what medication may work for you. Common antivirals used in the treatment of chickenpox include:
- Acyclovir (Zovirax)
- Famciclovir (Famvir)
- Immune globulin intravenous (IGIV)
- Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
Please note that famciclovir and valacyclovir should not be given to children.
These medications usually work to reduce the severity of chickenpox and are administered after a rash has appeared. There are also natural antiviral options, including vitamin C, oregano oil, garlic and olive leaf extract. Speak with a nutritionist or naturopath to find out more.
4. Get Vaccination
For those wishing to know how to prevent chickenpox, vaccination may be a good option. The vaccine is recommended for people of all ages except for people with weak immune system and pregnant women. Women who are pregnant may experience complications if they have the vaccine during their pregnancy. If you are planning on getting pregnant but are not yet carrying a baby, it is advised to have the vaccine first to attain immunity immediately.
What If You Have Been Exposed to the Virus?
If you have been exposed to the chickenpox virus and know you haven’t had the vaccine in the past (or if you aren’t sure), getting the vaccine as soon as possible may help to prevent the the disease, or at least reduce the severity. If you are unable to receive the vaccine (such as those who are pregnant), antibodies may be administered together with antiviral medication to prevent, delay or lessen the severity of the disease.
How Long Is Chickenpox Contagious and How Is It Spread?
Knowing the duration and the ways of transmission is helpful for you to understand how to prevent chickenpox. Chickenpox is contagious before any visible symptoms occur, usually two days before the development of a rash. The disease remains contagious until the final spots and blisters have disintegrated and the scabs have dropped off.
The disease spreads when saliva is expelled from the body via coughing, sneezing, speaking or breathing. Those who have shingles can spread the viruses responsible for chickenpox (the varicella-zoster viruses). Shingles can also occur in individuals who have previously had chickenpox.
What If You Want to Travel by Plane?
The occurrence of chickenpox often means that you are unable to fly as most airlines do not allow individuals with the disease to fly until they have past the contagious stage. Always check the policy of the airline you are flying with and let the airline know as soon as chickenpox has been diagnosed.
How to Prevent Scars After Having Chickenpox
You may have learnt how to prevent chickenpox but still became infected and wish to know how to prevent the appearance of scars. Here is what you can do:
1. Avoid Scratching
This can be very hard considering how itchy the rashes are, but scratching will only lead to infection and scarring.Sometimes scratching can be unavoidable. It is then important to keep the nails short and smooth to avoid damaging the skin. Wearing mittens, gloves or socks can also help prevent skin damage and scaring.
2. Apply Creams and Lotions
Creams like cocoa butter and those containing vitamin E or antioxidants can repair the skin after an outbreak of chickenpox has passed.
3. Take Oral Medications
Diphenhydramine can be purchased over the counter and to reduce itchiness. Oral cortisone medications are also quite effective though these require a prescription and are generally not given to children.
4. Keep Clean
Bathing with antibacterial soap helps avoid infection or the spread of infection resulting from scratching. These infections are the main causes of scars.
5. Use Sunscreen
Once healed, the marks left from chicken pox will usually disappear after 12-18 months. Exposing them to UV rays can cause damage and the marks may remain permanently on your skin. Thus the use of a strong sunscreen is recommended during this time.