Chicken Pox Scars

Chicken Pox (Varicella) is a common illness that typically manifests itself as an itchy rash that spreads across the entire body accompanied by several itchy fluid-filled blisters that form on the surface of the skin. It usually starts on the trunk and lesions come in crops. The early lesion is described as a dew drop on a rose petal, which eventually dries into a crust which them peels off. Occasionally they become secondarily infected with bacteria.

It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), and is highly contagious to people not previously exposed. Before routine vaccinations, nearly every child would have experienced a case of chicken pox before reaching adulthood. The virus can affect adults as well, often with more severe complications.When a person becomes infected with chicken pox, it usually takes about 14–16 days for the first symptoms to appear. This is known as the incubation period. After this initial period, flu-like symptoms and rashes will begin to occur. The rashes go through 3 stages: red bumps, fluid filled blisters and scabbed over lesions. This cycle will repeat itself for several days. Picking at, or popping the blisters and scabs can injure the skin, and can potentially result in permanent scarring. The scars are similar in appearance to the pitted scars that are caused by inflammatory acne.

Chicken Pox scarring typically appears as angular scars that are sunken, with well-defined edges. Chicken pox scars may be either superficial or deep and measure more than 3 mm in diameter. They are similar in appearance to boxcar scars caused by acne.

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). As the skin tries to heal itself, it can often create too much, or too little collagen in one spot, which results in an uneven texture of the skin. The scars left behind are a result of excess irritation and damage caused by physical trauma such as picking at the chicken pox lesions.

The skin should be treated as gently as possible during an outbreak of chicken pox.

  • Use gentle, allergen-free cleansers to wash the skin and be especially careful when cleaning the lesions.
  • Avoid scrubbing the skin too hard as this can lead to irritation.
  • Keep the lesions clean and dry to prevent infection.
  • Cheap, mild and plentiful – calamine lotion can be used to soothe the itch.

The varicella vaccine is effective in preventing the illness. If you have already had chicken pox, the vaccine is not necessary until you reach middle age, and want to reduce the risk later in your life of developing shingles.

If you currently have chicken pox, the most effective way to prevent scarring is to not irritate the skin during an outbreak.

  • Do not rupture chicken pox blisters.
  • Avoid astringents (containing alcohol) that may dry out and irritate the skin
  • Let scabs run their course – do not pick at or remove them

OTC
Camouflaging creams can mask the appearance of chicken pox scars. Prescription To reduce the look of scars, your doctor may prescribe a topical cream – tretinoin, adaplene or tazarotene – which will encourage collagen production, thereby potentially improving the appearance of scarring.

Procedures
Chemical peels (alpha hydroxy treatments) are an effective solution for minor, superficial scarring. They can improve overall skin tone.They tend to work best if you get a series of peels.Resurfacing treatments through laser therapy will remove the surface layer of the skin via heat injury. The healing process stimulates the production of collagen and removes some of the damaged/scarred outer skin tissue.In most cases, punch grafting or punch elevation is also used for improved results. Punch elevation involves lifting the tissue instead of removing the scar. The tissue initially sits slightly higher than the surrounding skin, but retracts as it heals to become level with the remaining skin.