Chicken pox is a ubiquitous part of childhood. It has crossed many centuries, cultures and continents, affecting up to 95 percent of the population. Sometimes known by its formal name, varicella zoster virus, chicken pox is a highly contagious viral infection.
Once the varicella zoster virus enters the body, it reproduces rapidly. The rash it causes only occurs after its second round of reproduction. It's believed that the virus can be at work in the body for up to 21 days before the telltale blisters show up. This prolonged incubation period is what makes chicken pox such a contagious condition. In fact, if you haven't had chicken pox and you live with someone who has developed it, it's almost impossible not to catch it yourself.
Chicken pox becomes pretty obvious once it starts producing symptoms. It's primarily distinguished by the itchy blisters it causes, which can range in number from 30 to 1,500. Chicken pox blisters generally show up first on the scalp, face and abdomen, and then spread to limbs.
The virus also produces a fever. In children, the fever can show up after the rash; in adults, it's likely to happen first. Eventually, after a week or so, the fever subsides and the chicken pox blisters scab and dry out.
Now that you know the basics of chicken pox, you should learn some other important facts about the virus. On the following pages, we'll cover five things you need to know about chicken pox.