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Conditions InDepth: Chickenpox

Chickenpox is a viral infection that spreads easily from person to person. The main sign is an itchy rash all over the body.

It is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV). The virus spreads quickly to others 1 to 2 days before the rash appears and the first day after the rash appears. The virus can spread to others until all of the blisters have crusted. A person can get the virus from:

  • Breathing airborne droplets that have the virus
  • Direct contact with fluid from a chickenpox rash

A pregnant mother can also pass it to the fetus.


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Chickenpox. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed September 8, 2020.

Chickenpox. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Accessed September 8, 2020.

Chickenpox (varicella). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Accessed September 8, 2020.

Gershon AA, Breuer J, et al. Varicella zoster virus infection. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2015 Jul 2;1:15016.

Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Shawna Grubb, RN  Last Updated: 3/19/2021