Chickenpox – (varicella) is a viral infection that causes an itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters. This infection is highly contagious to people who haven’t had the disease or been vaccinated against it.
Chickenpox infection appears 10 to 21 days after exposure to the virus and usually lasts about 5 to 10 days. The rash is the telltale indication of the infection. Other signs and symptoms, which may appear one to two days before the rash, include:
Loss of appetite
Tiredness and feeling of nausea
The chickenpox (varicella) vaccine is the best way to prevent the infection.
Chicken Pox vaccine
Avoid other children and adults with chickenpox
Doctors generally diagnose chickenpox based on the telltale rash. If there’s any doubt about the diagnosis, chickenpox can be confirmed with laboratory tests, including blood tests or a culture of lesion samples.
The doctor may prescribe an antihistamine to relieve itching. But for the most part, the disease is allowed to run its course.
For people who have a high risk of complications from this infection, doctors sometimes prescribe medications to shorten the duration of the infection and to help reduce the risk of complications. These medications may lessen the severity of the disease when given within 24 hours after the rash first appears.
Chickenpox, which is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, is highly contagious, and it can spread quickly. The virus is transmitted by direct contact with the rash or by droplets dispersed into the air by coughing or sneezing.
Your risk of catching this infection is higher if you:
- Haven’t had chickenpox
- Haven’t been vaccinated for chickenpox
- Work in or attend a school or child care facility
- Live with children