Complications of Chicken Pox
Complications are most common among the older age group.
- Herpes zoster - The varicella zoster virus of chickenpox can also cause 'herpes zoster or shingles.' Normally once the chickenpox infection settles down the virus rests in the roots of the ganglia next to the spinal cord and becomes dormant or inactive. However sometimes the virus may suddenly later in life decide to become active again and can cause the painful lesions of shingles.
- Scarring - Chicken pox seldom causes scarring, yet when it does, the scars most often occur around the eyes and consist of a small depression.
- Infection - Chickenpox lesions can become infected, usually from scratching and most frequently with bacteria called Staphylococcus. These secondary infections may be severe enough to require hospitalization.
- In very rare cases, chickenpox can result in complications such as meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the membranes of the brain or the brain itself), myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) or Reye’s syndrome.
Risk of Complications
- Pregnant women who have not had chickenpox.
- People with a weak immune system, such as those with acute or chronic leukemia or HIV.
- Patients taking medication to suppress their immune system, such as long-term oral steroids.
Those in the high-risk group who are exposed to the varicella-zoster virus can be given an injection of varicella-zoster-immunoglobin to boost their immunity. In some countries, vaccination against chickenpox is available.