What diet should I follow after chickenpox?

Chickenpox- a serious disease

What's this?

Chickenpox is a globally widespread, highly contagious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus. In many cases they are mild, but not infrequently they represent a high risk: As with rubella, unborn children are at risk of severe malformations if the mother is sick during pregnancy.

Serious chickenpox diseases cannot always be successfully treated with medication. Tragically, there are even deaths from chickenpox every year in Germany. The best possible protection is only offered by vaccination in good time.

How big is the risk for this disease?

Chickenpox is common around the world and is highly contagious. You can literally get infected with them "like by the wind" - that's why they got your name. Even staying together in a room with an infected person can be enough.

The problem is that practically everyone will get chickenpox at some point in their life. However, no one can predict who will suffer the potentially serious complications. Contrary to popular belief, it is essentially otherwise healthy individuals who are affected by the majority of complications.

How does the disease manifest itself?

Chickenpox viruses (varicella zoster viruses) are transmitted through direct contact with the skin or through the air we breathe. It usually takes 14 to 16 days between infection and the first signs of the disease.

The disease begins with a skin rash, which is usually accompanied by fever: Small, isolated red spots quickly transform into lentil-sized blisters, which become cloudy and after a few days scab and heal. It is typical that different stages of the rash (spots, blisters, pustules, crusts) coexist at the same time, as well as severe itching.

The disease is usually benign and is over in 1 to 2 weeks. Chickenpox is contagious 1 to 2 days before the rash appears. The infectiousness of chickenpox disappears about the 5th day after the appearance of the last fresh skin symptoms.

Chickenpox leaves a very long-lasting, if not lifelong, immunity.

After the illness has been overcome, the chickenpox viruses remain in the nerve cells of the body. Years later - especially in old age and in people with a weakened immune system - shingles (herpes zoster) can develop when the infection flares up again. Herpes zoster can be accompanied by severe nerve pain, some of which last for months. Adults with shingles can spread chickenpox virus to unprotected people.

Complications of the disease

The risk of complications is highest with illness in the 1st and after the 16th year of life. In 1 in 4,000 chickenpox cases, the cerebellum becomes inflamed, resulting in imbalance. The prospect of recovery is good.

Inflammation of the cerebrum occurs in 1 to 2 in 10,000 children with the disease, but has a poor chance of recovery. Current research shows that the majority of complications from chickenpox occur in otherwise healthy children of the prime age between 1 and 6 years.

Severe, sometimes life-threatening courses can occur in children with weak immune systems (e.g. under chemotherapy). Patients with severe neurodermatitis are also particularly at risk from bacterial superinfections. Chickenpox infections are also dangerous during pregnancy: An illness in the first 5 months (8th to 21st week of pregnancy) can cause severe malformations in the child. If the mother falls ill around the due date, this often leads to severe disease courses in the newborn; many children die from it. For premature babies, an illness in the first 6 weeks of life is also very threatening.

A very rare but extremely dreaded complication of chickenpox is stroke. In these children, chickenpox infection causes inflammation of the blood vessels in the brain, resulting in a stroke. Chickenpox-related deaths occur time and again.

After suffering from chickenpox disease, if the immune protection decreases, e.g. B. in old age, shingles (herpes zoster) occur. The affected person suffers from one-sided, strip-shaped groups of vesicles, which are often accompanied by long-lasting nerve pain.

What protection is there?

Preventive vaccination can provide a great deal of protection for children and adults who have not yet had chickenpox. Healthy children aged 9 months and over can be vaccinated. The varicella vaccination is also recommended for all people for whom chickenpox infection is a particular health risk.

Possible side effects of vaccination

Frequently (i.e. 10 to 20% of vaccinees) there may be temporary slight redness, swelling and pain at the injection site and a slight to moderate increase in temperature. Occasionally, symptoms of a mild “vaccine disease” (fever with a mild skin rash) may appear 1-4 weeks after vaccination. When vaccinating immunocompromised people, the reactions described occur much more frequently, so that vaccination is not indicated for these people.

Allergic reactions are very rare. There have been reports in the literature of individual cases of immediate allergic reactions, shingles or pneumonia in healthy and immunocompromised vaccinees, as well as transmission of the vaccine disease with a rash from a vaccinated to a mostly immunocompromised contact person. If you are allergic to neomycin (antibiotic) you should not be vaccinated. Please consult your doctor if you have any questions about any side effects of the vaccines. An overview of observed side effects and their frequency can be found in the package leaflet for the respective vaccines.

Further information on the Stiko vaccination recommendation

At a glance :

Chickenpox (varicella)

Pathogen: Varicella zoster virus.

Transmission route: Airborne droplet infection.

Incubation period: 14-16 (10-21) days.

Illness immunity: Very long, but waning with age; then under certain circumstances shingles can occur (herpes zoster).

Frequency and Distribution: Worldwide occurrence.