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Written by Dr.Swati Rajagopal

BENGALURU: My wife contracted chicken pox about 20 days ago, now no visible sores are present on her body. We were not intimate during this time. How many more days should I wait to avoid the risk of getting an infection? Also, I was planning to go to a beach over the weekend, is it advisable to sunbathe just after recovery from chicken pox?

The incubation period for varicella or chicken pox is 14 to 16 days. It is advisable to avoid intimate contact for 21 days post exposure to the rash. It is preferred to avoid sunbathing for a few months post recovery from chicken pox. The reason being, one may trigger the development of complications such as persistent pigmentation of the locations of vesicles (this complication is more common in adults than in children). There is no fixed duration for the same. Most doctors would prefer to avoid sunbathing for few months post recovery to avoid pigmentation. Longer the better, sometimes we recommend avoiding sunbathing for six months. This may differ on the case to case basis. The preferred option would be to get a physical assessment done by a dermatologist, a month after recovery, to see the extent and severity of the scars post healing.

I am on the 11th day of chicken pox and all my blisters have scabbed. Suddenly there seems to be two new ones today. Anything to worry? Is it possible for it to rellapse at this stage?

The evolution of rash in Chicken pox varies from person to person. Usually, it starts as a viral prodrome with fever, runny nose, cough, headache, and body ache. Within one to two days, the rash begins. It starts as spots on the chest and face, and then it spreads to all other parts. There are different forms of rashes on the same individual, known as macules, papules, fluid filled blisters, and then eventually crusts.

Chicken pox blisters show up in waves, some begin to crust and a new crop of blisters will erupt. So, there is nothing to worry about. Ideally, within 14 days, new eruptions of the blisters will stop.

My wife is pregnant (16 weeks) and is suffering from chicken pox. Will it harm the baby in any way?

Chicken pox in pregnancy requires immediate consultation with the health care provider. Pregnant women with chicken pox have higher risk of developing complications like pneumonia (chest infection) secondary to chicken pox. For the baby, the risk of infection depends on the stage of pregnancy. Between eight and 20 weeks of gestation, the baby faces a slight risk of developing serious birth defects like congenital varicella syndrome. Your doctor will give you antiviral medications to reduce the severity of infection. Do contact your health care provider for the medication.

The expert is a consultant of infectious diseases and travel medicine at Aster CMI Hospital

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