It’s weird to me to think that illness parties were once a thing (and apparently still a potential thing). I’ve heard of people asking for “covid parties” to expose their kids to the illness to “get it over with.” That’s just a terrible idea. Supposedly, the thought behind it is to build an immunity to the illness by catching it, like with the chickenpox. The really big flaw in that is that, unlike chickenpox, you can get covid more than once (which isn’t actually true but I’ll talk about that in a minute).

Now I didn’t want to actually talk about covid (that’s just a Segway into my real topic since I saw a post about “parties”). I really wanted to talk about the chickenpox.

Chickenpox (varicella) is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) which causes blistering, itchy skin that most people associate with the illness. It can also include a low-grade fever, general malaise, and ulcers. It can take 14 to 16 days for symptoms to appear after infection and is very contagious. Newborns, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk.

Bed rest and extra fluids are pretty standard in fighting off the chickenpox. Paracetamol can help with the fever but do NOT use aspirin as it can increase the chance of complications. Lukewarm baths with baking soda or oatmeal and creams/lotions can help reduce the skin irritation, whatever it takes to prevent scratching. Also, avoid salty and/or citrus foods.

Now, if you’ve already had chickenpox, you can’t really get it again, though the virus can still make you somewhat sick (which is why you can still kind of catch the chickenpox more than once). Anyway, once your body had recovered, the virus stays dormant in nerve cells, which can be reactivated and cause shingles later as an adult. And this can be much worse the older you get. This may be your biggest reason to avoid “chickenpox parties” because you have to have the chickenpox first before you can get shingles.

Of course, there are vaccines for VZV which I recommend (I got it when I was a kid and haven’t had chickenpox despite being exposed). While this is, again, for your protection, it’s mostly for the protection of those who cannot be immunized or at a higher risk. So please, get your vaccination if you haven’t already.

Info: Better Health Victoria: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/chickenpox

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