Chickenpox is contagious and caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes itchy rashes with small, fluid-filled blisters.
The itchy blister rashes caused by chickenpox infection seem 10 to 21 days after exposure to the virus and usually last about 5 to 10 days. Other symptoms, which may appear one to two days before the rash are given below:
- Tiredness and a common feeling of being unwell (malaise)
Once the chickenpox rash seems, it goes through three phases:
- Raised pink or red bumps (papules), which break in several days
- Small fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) form in about a day and then rupture and leak.
- The crusts and scabs, which cover the broken blisters and take several more days to heal
New bumps continue to appear for several days. So you may have all three stages of the rash — bumps, blisters, and scabbed lesions — at the same time. You can spread the virus to other people for up to 48 hours before the rash seems, and the virus remains contagious until all broken blisters have crusted over.
The disease is typically mild in healthy children. In severe cases, the rash can cover the entire body, and lesions may form in the eyes, throat, and mucous membranes of the urethra, anus, and vagina.
Chickenpox infection is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It can spread through direct communication with the rash. It can also spread when a person with chickenpox coughs or sneezes and inhale the air droplets. School-age children, college pupils, and students in other institutions of higher learning may be at higher risk of contracting chickenpox because of the potential for contact between those in the organization. Today, a vaccine is available that shields children against chickenpox.
If you already have chickenpox or have not been vaccinated against chickenpox, you are at higher risk of contracting the varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox.
When to see a doctor
If you feel you or your child might have chickenpox, consult your doctor. The doctor usually can diagnose chickenpox by examining the rash and considering other symptoms.