Chicken Pox Q&A with Dr. Jason Applebaum

What is your number one tip for identifying a chickenpox rash?

Chickenpox frequently starts with

  • Fever between 101°-102°F range
  • Headache

These symptoms may begin 2-4 days prior to development of the rash. The rash starts as numerous tiny red bumps that seem like pimples or insect bites. They generally start on the trunk and spread to the face and extremities.

Why is chickenpox so much more dangerous for adults?

If someone then gets infected by the virus as an adult, they run a much higher risk of developing a severe Varicella-zoster virus Pneumonia which is a type of lung infection. Less commonly encephalitis, which is an infection of the brain, can occur as well. These complications are rare in children.

What are your feelings about “chickenpox parties”?

chickenpox
Children under the age of one year have an increased risk of these complications. Therefore I would not recommend intentional exposure in infants. However exposing children between ages 2-13 years, who have no other medical conditions, is not a bad idea and likely gives longer terms of immunity to future infection than the vaccine.

Can a person get a chickenpox vaccine at any age if they missed the vaccine as an infant?

Yes, everyone should get the vaccine even if they missed it as a child. It is critical to vaccinate older children and adults whenever the opportunity arises. These older individuals, when they contract chickenpox, are more likely to become seriously ill and have disease complications than younger children. Additionally, it is becoming clear that the vaccine does not give life-long immunity and booster immunization is likely to be necessary 5-10 years down the road much like the tetanus vaccine.

What are some common complications from having chickenpox later in life?

Chicken pox hardly ever causes complications, but it is not always harmless. It can cause hospitalization and, in rare cases, death. Fortunately, since the beginning of administration of the vaccine in 1995, hospitalizations have declined by nearly 90%, and there have been a small number of fatal cases of chickenpox.

About Dr. Jason Applebaum

Dr. Applebaum earned his Medical Degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He graduated with honors and received special distinction for his intensive research in molecular biology. With extensive training and experience in laser surgery and cosmetic surgery, Dr. Applebaum specializes in facial rejuvenation and scar treatment. He joined our team at Advanced Dermatology and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery in 1999. Board certified in dermatology, Dr. Applebaum is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and is a graduate member of the American Medical Association and the Society for Investigative Dermatology.

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