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by Rick Alan
Chickenpox is a virus that spreads easily to others. It creates an itchy rash. In most it will cause illness for 1-3 weeks. Some may have serious complications.
A virus called varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes chickenpox. It spreads from person to person through:
A pregnant mother can also pass the virus to her fetus.
Risk Factors TOP
The main risk factor is contact with someone with chickenpox. It is also more common in winter and spring.
Factors that may increase the chance of chickenpox complications include:
Symptoms break out about 10-21 days after contact. They tend to be more severe in adults than they are in children.
First symptoms include:
The rash appears within 1-2 days after the first symptoms. The rash:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be needed. The doctor can often diagnose based on the rash.
Chickenpox is mild in most people. It will pass on its own. Home care can help to relieve symptoms.
To Reduce Itching
The rash can be very itchy. However, scratching can damage the skin. It can also increase risk for infection. Itchiness can be reduced with:
Note : Do not use aspirin in children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.
High Risk Support
Some people have a higher risk of complications including:
Medicine or treatment may help shorten the infection. It may also reduce how severe the symptoms are. Options include:
Avoid contact with anyone who has chickenpox.
There is a chickenpox vaccine. This can prevent illness even if you have been in contact with someone who is sick. Vaccines may be given:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
College of Family Physicians of Canada
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Last reviewed May 2018 by David Horn, MD
Last Updated: 5/7/2018
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