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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Here's how to avoid chicken pox

Debasmita Ghosh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 21, 2013
First Published: 17:28 IST(21/3/2013) | Last Updated: 11:54 IST(22/3/2013)

The dreaded season of chicken pox is back again. While many of you might have already contracted the disease in your childhood, for those who haven’t, the prevention lies in your own hands… well, literally. 

“As basic as it may sound but maintaining good hand-hygiene is the most important step to prevent having chicken pox,” says Dr Raman Abhi, head of internal medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon. “Ideally, one should avoid going to over-crowded places and areas with poor hygiene conditions but that may not be practically possible. So, remember to disinfect your hands before eating or even otherwise, it makes a lot of difference as chicken pox is a communicable disease. Patients are infectious from two days before the rash appears so even if your friend or colleague may have gone on sick leave, you may contract the infection through common platforms like the keyboard,” adds Dr Abhi.

Breakfast, a must
The next step is to boost your immunity. “Sleep well and eat healthy. Pack your meals with loads of greens and fresh fruits to keep your immunity intact. As a thumb rule, never leave home without having breakfast because when your stomach is empty, your immunity is the weakest, and you are prone to contracting diseases easily,” says Dr Satish Kaul of Columbia Asia Hospital.

Vaccine protection
You can even go for the varicella vaccine that can be taken at any age. “It’s safe and effective. People above 13 years of age, who have never had chicken pox, should take two doses of it, at least 28 days apart,” says Dr S Chatterjee of internal medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.

FAQs
Who are most prone?

People with a weak immune system
Pregnant women
People who are taking immuno suppressant drugs (eg: high-dose steroids)
People who were moderately or severely ill and have not yet fully recovered
People who have certain disorders affecting the blood, bone marrow, or lymphatic system

Can a person get chicken pox more than once?
It depends on one’s antibody count. If the antibody count in your system goes down, one may be affected once again. Eat well and maintain a healthy lifestyle to retain your immunity and thereby your antibody count.

Is it inevitable that if one person in the house gets it, everyone else, who haven't got it earlier will also get it?
If one maintains good hand hygiene and strict patient-isolation is maintained, washing their clothes and utensils also separately, then contraction of chicken pox may be avoided.


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