Diseases & Conditions
What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a common childhood illness. It is usually mild and characterized by blister-like vesicles which break and scab over after a few days. It consists of an itchy, red rash that breaks out on the face, scalp, chest, back and, to a lesser extent, arms and legs.1
Chickenpox can be severe in adults, with pneumonia, meningitis or encephalomyelitis. It can be life-threatening in immunocompromised patients.
What causes chickenpox?
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus which is a member of the herpes viruses that causes varicella (chickenpox) and zoster (shingles).
Chickenpox is highly contagious and is transmitted by direct contact or through the air from an infected person’s coughing or sneezing. A patient with chickenpox is contagious for 1 –2 days before the rash appears and until all the blisters have formed scabs.2
What are the risk factors for chickenpox?
Some factors could increase the risk of getting chickenpox:3
What are the symptoms of chickenpox?
The signs and symptoms of chickenpox include:4
How is chickenpox diagnosed?
Tests to diagnose chickenpox are the following:5
How is chickenpox treated?
There is no cure for chickenpox, and the virus usually clears up by itself without any treatment. However, there are some medications that can ease the discomfort and the itching such as:6
How is chickenpox prevented?
The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. Children, adolescents, and adults should have two doses of chickenpox vaccine.7