What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a highly contagious disease caused by the initial infection with varicella zoster virus (VZV). It usually starts on the face, chest, and back and then spreads to the rest of the body. Other symptoms may include fever, feeling tired, and headaches. Symptoms usually last five to ten days. Symptoms begin ten to twenty one days after exposure to the virus.

Chickenpox is an airborne disease which spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of an infected person. It may be spread from one to two days before the rash appears until all lesions have crusted over. It may also spread through contact with the blisters. Those with shingles may spread chickenpox to those who are not immune through contact with the blisters. The disease can usually be diagnosed based on the presenting symptom; Testing for antibodies may be done to determine if a person is or is not immune. People usually only get the disease once.

The varicella vaccine has resulted in a decrease in the number of cases and complications from the disease. Routine immunization of children is recommended in many countries. For those at increased risk of complications antiviral medication such as aciclovir are recommended.

Chickenpox occurs in all parts of the world. Before routine immunization the number of cases occurring each year was similar to the number of people born. Since immunization the number of infections in the United States has decreased nearly 90%. In 2013 chickenpox resulted in 7,000 deaths globally – down from 8,900 in 1990. Chickenpox was not separated from smallpox until the late 19th century. In 1888 its connection to shingles was determined. The first documented use of the term chicken pox was in 1684.

Questions and answers on "Chickenpox"

s it okay to brush your teeth and taking a bath during chickenpox? my cousin is 10 years old and she got chickenpox. someone told that she shouldnt...

doctor1 MD

HI, thanks for using healthcare magic

Yes, it is certainly ok to perform normal daily hygiene habits if infected with chicken pox.
The presence of...

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Hi doctor! All of my siblings had chickenpox recently. I am 23yrs old and I suspect that I have chickenpox.But there are no lesions in my body yet,...

doctor1 MD

Chickenpox , patients present with fever , malaise with rash CHARACTERIZED by naculopapules, vesicles and scab in various stages of...

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Yes, Thank you. Both of my children have spherecytosis and have been exposed to chickenpox . They do not have it, but there is an outbreak at my...

doctor1 MD

Hi Christen,

If there is an outbreak of chickenpox in the school then exposure has already taken place. However you can prevent them from...

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