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Symptoms of Chickenpox

Symptoms will begin 10 to 21 days after you have contact with the virus. Initial symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • General feeling of discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cough
  • Stomach ache

The rash will appear 1 to 2 days after the first symptoms.

  • It is most common above the waist, including the scalp. Exposed areas are most common.
  • Less common areas include eyelids, in the mouth, nose, throat, upper airway, or voice box. It can also appear in the rectum or vagina.

It will change over time:

  • At first, the rash consists of small, flat, red spots.
  • Later, the spots will be raised. They will form clusters of round, itchy, fluid-filled blisters. The skin around the base will be red.
  • The blisters usually burst. They will form sores that will crust and scab over.
  • New clusters form over 5-6 days. There will be spots at different stages at the same time.
  • The rash will often crust over completely by day 6 or 7. The crusts may be gone within three weeks. Most will not leave a scar.

Note: Symptoms may last longer in people with immune problems. The illness may also be more severe.


Chickenpox. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116084/Chickenpox. Updated June 19, 2017. Accessed March 14, 2018.

Chickenpox. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/chickenpox.html. Updated January 2017. Accessed March 14, 2018.

Chickenpox (varicella). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox. Updated June 28, 2016. Accessed March 14, 2018.

Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD  Last Updated: 5/9/2018