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Rashes in adults and children: A guide for primary care nurses

Margaret Perry explains how nurses can manage and distinguish between common dermatological symptoms


This is a highly infectious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus and is most prevalent in children under the age of ten, with over 90% of cases occurring in this age group. It is generally, a mild disease, but can be fatal in neonates and the immunocompromised, and has more serious consequences in adults. Spread occurs by transmission from person to person by breathing in infected respiratory droplets via sneezing or coughing, or less commonly through contact with weeping spots.

The rash develops 10-14 days after contracting the infection, but this may be longer. The child is often unwell for a couple of days prior to outbreak of the typically itchy rash, with additional symptoms of headaches, loss of appetite and fever. Adults generally have a more serious disease and 5-14% of adults develop lung problems, such as pneumonia, with smokers at a much greater risk.1

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