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Ask Doctor Cory.

Dear Dr. Cory:

How do you get chickenpox? My brother got it and got rid of it, but I don't understand how. How do you get rid of it? Also, how do you get a cold? I got one. In your column I have read about head lice and how to take the sting out of jellyfish, and I learned about skin cancer. I really like learning about these things. Please keep writing your column.



Dear Mariah,

Chickenpox is caused by a virus called varicella zoster. It can be spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs, sending little droplets containing the virus into the air. Healthy children who breathe in these droplets can become infected.

People can also get chickenpox if they touch the blister-like rash on the infected person and then put their fingers in their mouth, eyes, or nose.

A person is contagious one or two days before breaking out with the rash. After that, he can still spread the disease until the entire blister-like rash has scabbed over. If you have come in contact with the virus, it can take anywhere from ten to twenty-one days before you come down with the disease.

The blister-like rash usually crusts over and heals on its own. Keeping fingernails short and taking daily baths help keep the rash area from getting infected. A prescription medicine called Acyclovir, if given when the disease first begins, helps to lessen the symptoms. People with chickenpox should never take aspirin or any medicine that contains aspirin because it can increase the chances of getting a very serious disease called Reye's syndrome.

The chickenpox vaccine helps to protect you from getting chickenpox. Children can receive the vaccine at any visit to their doctor on or after their first birthday. Any child 13 years or older who has not had chickenpox or has not been immunized should receive two doses of the vaccine at least four weeks apart.

We are glad you like our column! Please see the next page for info about colds.

Dear Dr. Cory:

I asked my dad if I had fat thighs and he said I didn't. Are they just muscles or are they just fat? Why are they this way?



Dear Jamie:

Your thigh contains two major muscle groups, the quadriceps in the front and the hamstrings in the back. Your quadriceps is one of the largest muscle groups in your body. It is made up of four different muscles: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. You use your quadriceps a lot because their main job is to extend, or straighten, the leg.

The hamstrings are made up of three muscles: semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris. They help bend the knee and turn it slightly inward.

Using a muscle often helps to keep it strong and firm. Your muscles will naturally increase in size as you grow and develop. People who bike, run, or play sports usually develop large, strong thigh muscles.

Your dad says that you don't have fat thighs. Some type of regular play or exercise every day will help to keep your growing muscles strong and firm.

Dear Dr. Cory:

How do people get a cold?



Dear Zealand,

When a person with a cold breathes, sneezes, or coughs, he sends out droplets into the air. If you breathe in those droplets, the cold virus can make you sick, too. You can also catch a cold by touching something that someone with a cold has touched, coughed or sneezed on.

Cold viruses can live for several hours on toys, doorknobs, telephones, furniture, or eating utensils. Another way to catch the virus is by touching a person who has a cold. Cold viruses can live on hands for more than twenty minutes. Maybe that's why the Japanese bow when they greet each other instead of shaking hands.

Unfortunately, we can get colds anytime of the year. However, we seem to get them more during the winter months, probably because we are inside more and in close contact with other people. In fact, Benjamin Franklin said that colds come from being kept in a room with a person who has a cold. He believed in opening the windows at night to bring in the fresh air while he slept.

Frequent and careful hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent many illnesses, especially colds. Wash your hands regularly after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, handling pets, coming in from the outdoors, returning home from the mall or other public places, and before eating or handling food.


The right way to wash your hands:

* Get your hands wet and all parts of the hand soapy.

* Rub all areas including front and back, between fingers, and under fingernails.

* Leave the soap on for at least fifteen seconds so that it can remove the sticky bacteria, viruses and parasites.

* Rinse the soap off by rubbing your hands under running water,

* Dry your hands with a dry, clean towel and use the towel to turn off the faucet.

To learn more about hand washing and preventing illness, visit the Scrub Club Web site at

See you next issue!

Your friend,

Cory SerVaas, M.D.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Children's Digest
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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