Chickenpox: vaccine and treatment

Chickenpox vaccine

Since 2004, a vaccine against chickenpox is available in Germany, which can be done in infants from nine months. In general, the chickenpox vaccine is carried out together with the vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella. The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends vaccinating children for the first time at the age of 11-14 months. The second chickenpox vaccination then takes place at 15-23 months. Even later, a vaccine is possible at any time and is especially recommended for children and adolescents between nine and 17 years.

Despite vaccination, no guaranteed protection

The vaccine is attenuated varicella-zoster virus against which the body develops antibodies after vaccination. About three to five weeks after vaccination, protection against chickenpox begins. In individual cases, however, it is possible that the chickenpox erupt despite vaccination. Then, the disease usually takes a milder course.

In general, the chickenpox vaccination should not be performed if there are acute illnesses with fever or the immune system is weakened for other reasons. Even during pregnancy better vaccination should not take place. However, if you have been accidentally vaccinated against chickenpox during pregnancy, you should not panic: So far, there are no known cases where the vaccine has caused any harm to the unborn child.

Chickenpox: treatment

Chickenpox usually does not treat the virus itself, but only the symptoms that trigger it. The itching can be alleviated by applying moist, cool compresses. Also with chamomile tea soaked compresses counteract the itching. Also, applying lotions and creams that contain zinc may be helpful. Ointments, on the other hand, should rather not be used, as the airtight seal creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. A particularly strong itching can be alleviated by the intake of antihistamines.

If you have a fever, medicines containing the active ingredients paracetamol or ibuprofen should be used. Acetylsalicylic acid should by no means be used because of the side effects in children. Patients who have a weak immune system, can also be administered an antiviral such as acyclovir, which inhibits the multiplication of the virus.

Chickenpox and shingles

Anyone who has ever experienced chickenpox is usually immune to the disease. But the viruses remain in the body even after the last skin spots have healed: they retreat into the spinal or cranial nerve ganglia and can trigger a shingles at a later time, usually in adulthood.

About 20 percent of people who carry the varicella-zoster virus in the body fall ill later in their lives on shingles. Because of stress or a weakened immune system, the viruses can be reactivated. Anyone who suffers from shingles, can infect other people with chickenpox, but not with shingles. Therefore, sick people should avoid contact with pregnant women.

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