Viruses can enter an individuals body through contact or inhalation and cause some types of skin disorders. Sometimes these viruses result in skin ailments. Most of these skin disorders are easily treated, but for doctors some may present more of a challenge to treat. The key to getting timely treatment is early diagnosis of any skin disorder.

Commonly referred to as smallpox, variola is divided into two types: variola major and variola minor. The virus that causes smallpox is called variola. In the United States smallpox has been under control since the late 1970s and in the 1980s it was found to no longer exist. It was a highly contagious disease. While it starts as a rash it will quickly escalate to its full form. The lesions are often hard and tough to break. An individuals skin can also be left severely damaged from this condition.

Who Can Get Them?

Variola can be contracted by anyone. Those most susceptible to the disease are children and pregnant women. Anyone can be exposed to and catch this illness since it is contracted by person to person contact.

What Can Cause Them?

It is caused by a virus. The virus enters a persons body through inhalation and the particles can remain in clothing and other items for up to a week.

How Does It Happen?

The virus moves from the lungs to the bloodstream once an individual inhales the virus and then spreads to the skin, the intestines, lungs, kidneys and often the brain. The rash is flat and red to start and then they become raised and usually look like blisters. About twelve to seventeen days after the individual has contracted the virus it forms into pustules. The pustules then form into scabs that eventually fall off as the skin starts to dry up. The entire process takes three to four weeks and the affected areas can be permanently scarred. Individuals with a rare case of variola can have a dark, purplish flushing of the skin before the rash begins to appear. Individuals with this form of the ailment usually die before the onset of the rash.

Where Do They Appear?

Often variola or smallpox will appear on the exposed parts of a persons body which includes the face, forearms, wrists, palms, legs, feet and soles of the feet. The body tends to be affected in all areas at the same time.

What Are The Symptoms?

Symptoms typically begin ten to fourteen days are someone is exposed to the virus. It starts as a skin rash. The rash is flat to start and then progresses to raised spots. The papules become filled with a clear fluid as they grow and then it changes to a pus like fluid. Individuals may also experience fever, chills, headaches, nausea, vomiting and muscles aches.

How Can It Be Diagnosed?

Variola can be easily diagnosed by doctors. The symptoms exhibited by the infected individual make it easy to diagnose. To confirm the presence of the virus in a persons system a blood test can be done.

What Treatments Are Available?

The vaccine is the first treatment that is available for individuals. However, the public is routinely not given the vaccine anymore. Those born after the late 1970s were likely not given the vaccine. The best line of defense is to get the vaccine before you are exposed since it protects about 95% of the population from this ailment. Giving the vaccine within three days of exposure will reduce the severity of the symptoms if you develop it. The vaccine can only offer some protection after four to seven days, but you won’t get complete relief from the symptoms. For three to five years you can be protected with the vaccine.

Giving intravenous fluids, antibiotics for secondary infections and pain medication to help with the fever and pain are other methods of treatment. Individuals given the vaccine may also be given vaccinia immune globulin in some cases to help treat complications that can come from the vaccine. The key is to keep individuals calm.

Variola is one of a few skin ailments that is directly tied to a virus as the main cause. Although not administered for years it is also one that has a vaccine. If for some reason individuals develop this skin disorder it still gives individuals peace of mind that quick medical attention will treat an individual.

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