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What are the symptoms of chicken pox and how is it normally treated?

Chicken pox is a highly contagious but usually harmless infection that occurs predominately in children under the age of ten.

The disease is caused by the Varicella-Zoster virus, one of the eight herpes viruses known to affect humans.

The initial symptom of chicken pox is a very high temperature which normally lasts for 24hrs.

This is followed by the formation of red spots on the trunk of the body.

These quickly develop into small blisters which continue to appear for several days.

The blisters then begin to dry out and form crusts which will eventually fall off after a week or two.

Remember to tell your child not to pick these scabs because they will sometimes leave permanent scars.

Calamine lotion or antihistamine medication can be used to reduce the irritating itching.

If you're child develops chicken pox the first thing to do is stay calm. Chicken pox only poses a serious risk for with people with existing health problems or weakened immune systems.

For the vast majority of children, the condition will run it's course in approximately 7-10 days, and have no long term effect on your child's health.

Medical attention is only necessary if your child wont eat or drink, or feels unwell.

If this is the case, you should take your child to your GP immediately, as complications do very occasionally arise.

Finally, remember that chicken pox is extremely contagious.

Anyone who hasn't had the disease should be kept well away from an infected child.

Pregnant women in particular should keep their distance because the virus can infect their baby and cause abnormalities.

So if you are worried about your child and decide to take him to see you GP, you must phone the doctor's surgery beforehand to prevent exposing the disease to a room full of patients.

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