Herpes zoster virus
Chickenpox is a common illness that mainly affects children and causes anitchy,spotty rash.
Most children will catch chickenpox at some point. It can also occur in adults who didn't have it when they were a child.
It'susually mild and clears up in a week or so, but it can be dangerous for some people, such as pregnant women,newborn babiesand people with a weakened immune system.
This page covers:
The symptoms of chickenpox start one to three weeks after becoming infected.
The main symptom is a rash that develops in three stages:
Chickenpox is contagious until all the blisters have scabbed over, which usually happens about five or six days after the rash appeared.
Read about the symptoms of chickenpox for more information and pictures of the different stages of the rash.
Chickenpox can usually be treated at home.
You or your child will probably feel pretty miserable and uncomfortable, but treatment can help relieve the symptoms.
The following can help:
You should also take steps to stop chickenpox spreading , such as staying away from school or work until the last blister has scabbed over.
But some people can become more seriously ill and need to see a doctor.
It's a good idea to contact your GP or NHS 111 for adviceif:
Also consider getting advice if you're originally from a country near the equator (the tropics) and you've been in close contact with someone who has chickenpox.
Chickenpox is much more common in adults from these areas and you may need treatment to help stop you becoming seriously ill.
Chickenpoxiscaused by a virus that spreads very easily to people who haven't had it before. If you have hadit before, you'll usually be immune for life.
Theinfection is spread in the fluid found in chickenpox blisters and the droplets in the coughs or sneezes of someone with the infection.
You can catchchickenpox from:
Someonewith chickenpox is infectious from oneor two days before the rash appears until all the blisters have dried out and crusted over.
Most people with chickenpox will make a full recovery. But occasionally serious complications can occur.
These are more common in adults, pregnant women, newborn babies and people with weakened immune systems.
Possible complications include:
Some people with chickenpox may develop shingles later in life. This is apainful, blistery rash caused by the chickenpox virus becoming reactivated.
Find out all you need know about chickenpox, including what the symptoms are, how to treat it and when to get medical advice.
Find out about the main symptoms and stages of chickenpox.
Find out how to treat chickenpox at home.