A Pox Upon Chicken Pox: Avoiding Chicken Pox Scars As An Adult

When you think of the common demographic for chicken pox (the varicella virus), it's likely of young children, while shingles (the dormant chicken pox virus) typically hits adults. While that is usually the case, some adults can actually get chicken pox. In fact, the CDC says that even if you've been vaccinated for chicken pox, there's a possibility of getting it, although your symptoms should be lighter with that added layer of protection.

If you've noticed symptoms such as a high fever and itchy blisters cropping up lately, you'll want to see a doctor to avoid complications. Adults have a higher risk of joint inflammation, pneumonia, encephalitis, and skin infections. Even if your health checks out and there are no complications, skin infections and scarring are still risk factors. Take a look at what you can do during and after chicken pox runs its course.

During the Chickenpox

Don't scratch the sores

This tip is easier said than done; and, some sores may inevitably get "scratched" from fabrics rubbing your skin. However, you may want to wear gloves to avoid the urge of digging your fingernails into the skin. If you can't wear gloves all the time, be sure to clip your nails so that there is less chance of infection if you scratch. According to an ABC News article, one study said that fingernails longer than 3 mm carried more bacteria and yeast than shorter nails. In short, keep your nails short so if they scratch a blister, they aren't spreading germs!

Invest in sunblock and other creams

Once you are no longer contagious, you may be eager to go outside. While being out in the sun does boost your immune system since it helps you produce vitamin D, UV radiation can contribute to scar formation. So be sure to slather on the sunscreen, even on cloudy days.

While you're at home, you can find some relief with calamine lotion. Not only will it help relieve itching sensations, but it contains an astringent which will help to dry up and heal the blisters. Cocoa butter is often used for ailments like stretchmarks, and it can also be used to prevent chicken pox scarring since it contains antioxidants, like Vitamin E.

After the Chickenpox

Even if you are super careful, you may have one or two chickenpox scars anyway. The good news is that there are treatments you can look into.

Consider dermal fillers

Dermal fillers are gel-like substances, like bovine collagen (a structural protein in skin), that your doctor will inject below your skin to "push up" the indentation of your chicken pox scar. In the past, these fillers would only last a few months, but improvements in technology have made it so that these results can last a couple of years. And the good news is that the procedure has quick results and minimal risks. The only downside is that you may need to go back to the doctor to continue getting fillers.

Consider surgery

If you want more permanent results, you may elect to get surgery. Usually, a doctor will do a punch elevation surgery, where a punch tool will be used to excise the scar, and then the surrounding area is stitched up. Punch surgeries are great because minimal tissues are removed and surrounding tissues aren't stretched—which would make scarring more likely! Instead of a chicken pox scar, this surgery should leave you with a near-invisible line of where the procedure was. Once you've healed from surgery, you may elect to smooth the skin surface even further with laser resurfacing or botox (purified botulinum toxin A).

As you can see, as annoying as chicken pox is an adult, there are solutions for any scarring you may face.