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Arusha Campbell-Chambers | Ten features of zika skin rashes

Published:Wednesday | August 3, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The Zika virus, transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, is known to cause fever, joint pain, muscle pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), rashes, fatigue and possibly nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. These manifestations may also be seen in other viral illnesses.

Today, we will take a closer look at the types of rashes that can be caused by the Zika virus.

1 The rashes usually begin about 10 days after a bite from an infected mosquito.

2 The Zika rashes usually start in the individual's face and spread to the rest of the body.

3 They usually start on the first day that the Zika symptoms appear, start to fade on or after the third day and usually last about a week.

4 The rashes tend to be itchy, although the extent of this may vary with individuals.

5 They may consist of flat spots (macules) and small bumps (papules) and so may be medically described as maculopapular, since both macules and papules are present.

6 These rashes tend to be red (erythematous) in colour and may appear darker in darker skin types.

7 The spots may resemble the rash seen in measles. These types of rashes are called morbilliform rashes, which consist of spots about two to 10 mm in diameter. They may be grouped together (confluent) in some areas.

8 In some cases, the rash may resemble the rash seen in scarlet fever (scarlatiniform). This consists of many small red rashes throughout the body.

9 There is no specific treatment for Zika rashes, which go away on their own. However, medications can be used to treat the itching, such as oral anti-

histamines and topical anti-itch creams. Use gentle and fragrance-free cleansers and

moisturisers to avoid skin

irritation and dryness.

10 Zika rashes do not leave scars or spots behind after they go away.

The symptoms of the Zika virus are similar to those of chikungunya and dengue. However, chikungunya is usually associated with a higher fever and more severe, disabling joint pains that can be long-lasting. Dengue usually causes a high fever, severe muscle pain, and possible signs of bleeding.

Most patients with the Zika virus have rashes and conjunctivitis. Zika has also has been associated with an increase in Guillain-BarrÈ Syndrome, a

serious disorder of the nervous system. An increase in birth defects, such as microcephaly (small heads) and calcium deposits in the brain, has been reported by Brazil during their Zika outbreak.

See your health-care provider if you develop any of the symptoms and signs mentioned above. Although there is no

specific medicine to treat the Zika virus, medications can be used to relieve symptoms such as pain, fever and itching. Until dengue is ruled out, aspirin and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) should be avoided to reduce the risk of bleeding.

There is no vaccine available to prevent Zika virus.

Remember to play your role in preventing the spread of mosquito-transmitted diseases by eliminating mosquito-breeding sites and protecting yourself and others from mosquito bites.

• Dr Arusha Campbell-Chambers is a dermatologist and founder of Dermatology Solutions Skin Clinics & Medi-Spa. Email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com