Chickenpox (or chicken pox) is a highly contagious disease caused by primary infection with varicella zoster virus (VZV). It usually starts with vesicular skin rash mainly on the body and head rather than at the periphery and becomes itchy, raw pockmarks, which mostly heal without scarring. On examination, the observer typically finds skin lesions at various stages of healing and also ulcers in the oral cavity and tonsil areas.
Chickenpox is an airborne disease which spreads easily through coughing or sneezing by ill individuals or through direct contact with secretions from the rash. A person with chickenpox is infectious one to two days before the rash appears. They remain contagious until all lesions have crusted over (this takes approximately six days). Immunocompromised patients are contagious during the entire period as new lesions keep appearing. Crusted lesions are not contagious.
The early (prodromal) symptoms in adolescents and adults are nausea, loss of appetite, aching muscles, and headache. This is followed by the characteristic rash and/or oral sores, malaise, and a low-grade fever that signal the presence of the disease. Oral manifestations of the disease (enanthem) not uncommonly may precede the external rash (exanthem). In children the illness is not usually preceded by prodromal symptoms, and the first sign is the rash or the spots in the oral cavity. The rash begins as small red dots on the face, scalp, torso and upper arms and legs; progressing over 10–12 hours to small bumps, blisters and pustules; followed by umbilication and the formation of scabs.
At the blister stage, intense itching is usually present. Blisters may also occur on the palms, soles, and genital area. Commonly, visible evidence of the disease develops in the oral cavity & tonsil areas in the form of small ulcers which can be painful or itchy or both; this enanthem (internal rash) can precede the exanthem (external rash) by 1 to 3 days or can be concurrent. These symptoms of chickenpox appear 10 to 21 days after exposure to a contagious person. Adults may have a more widespread rash and longer fever, and they are more likely to experience complications, such as varicella pneumonia.
Because watery nasal discharge containing live virus usually precedes both exanthem (external rash) and enanthem (oral ulcers) by 1 to 2 days, the infected person actually becomes contagious one to two days prior to recognition of the disease. Contagiousness persists until all vesicular lesions have become dry crusts (scabs), which usually entails four or five days, by which time nasal shedding of live virus also ceases.
Chickenpox is rarely fatal, although it is generally more severe in adult men than in women or children. Non-immune pregnant women and those with a suppressed immune system are at highest risk of serious complications. Arterial ischemic stroke (AIS) associated with chickenpox in the previous year accounts for nearly one third of childhood AIS. The most common late complication of chickenpox is shingles (herpes zoster), caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus decades after the initial, often childhood, chickenpox infection.
Antimonium tartaricum: This remedy may be indicated when eruptions are large and slow to emerge. The child feels sweaty, fussy, and may be nauseous with a white-coated tongue. If chest congestion with a rattling cough develops, or a bubbly sound on breathing, Antimonium tart is likely to be the appropriate remedy.
Antimonium crudum: A child who needs this remedy usually is irritable and may object to being touched or looked at. The eruptions are sore, and touching them may bring on shooting pains.
Apis mellifica: When this remedy is indicated, the skin around the eruptions is pink and puffy and very itchy, with stinging pains. The eyelids may also be swollen. The person feels worse from warmth, is irritable, and usually is not thirsty.
Belladonna: This remedy is indicated when a child is hot and feverish, with a red flushed face, and eyes that are sensitive to light. A pounding headache may be felt, accompanied by either restlessness or drowsiness. The rash usually is red, with a feeling of heat and throbbing.
Bryonia: When fever persists for several days during chicken pox, and a dry nagging cough develops, this remedy may be useful. The person’s mouth is dry, with thirst for long cold drinks. The person may be very grumpy, feel worse from motion, and dislike being interfered with in any way.
Mercurius solubilis: This remedy may be indicated if eruptions are large and become infected. The child is very sensitive to temperature changes and feels worse at night. Perspiration and drooling during sleep, swollen lymph nodes, and offensive breath are strong indications for Mercurius.
Pulsatilla: A child who needs this remedy is often sweet and tearful when ill and wants a lot of attention and comforting. Itching and other discomforts are worse from warmth and in stuffy rooms, and improved by cool fresh air. The person is rarely thirsty, even during fever.
Rhus toxicodendron: This remedy is useful in cases of chicken pox with tremendous itching that is worse from scratching and relieved by warm baths or applying heat. The child may be very restless, both physically and mentally. The eyes may become inflamed and sticky. Muscles can ache and feel very stiff, also relieved by warmth and gentle motion. (Some homeopathic physicians recommend Rhus tox to people who have been exposed to chicken pox, to help prevent infection.)
Sulphur: If itching is so severe that the person finds it impossible to keep from scratching—or if eruptions have a nagging, burning pain—this remedy may bring relief. The symptoms (and the person) become worse from warmth and aggravated after bathing. Both heat and chills are felt during fever. The person may feel drowsy in the afternoon and restless and hot at night.
Urtica urens: Eruptions with stinging, burning pain and itching may be relieved by this remedy. Symptoms are aggravated by exertion and from overheating.
Homeopathy Dosage Directions
Select the remedy that most closely matches the symptoms. In conditions where self-treatment is appropriate, unless otherwise directed by a physician, a lower potency (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X, or 30C) should be used. In addition, instructions for use are usually printed on the label.