Dec 31, · Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It can cause an itchy, blister-like rash. The rash first appears on the chest, back, and face, and then spreads over the entire body, causing between and itchy blisters. Jul 25, · Chickenpox, also called varicella, is characterized by itchy red blisters that appear all over the body. A virus causes this condition. It often affects children, and was so common it was Author: Marissa Selner.
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus VZV. It can cause an itchy, blister-like rash. The rash first appears on the chest, back, and face, and then spreads over the entire body, causing between and itchy blisters. Chickenpox can be serious, especially in babies, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and people with a weakened immune system. The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine.
Chickenpox used to be very common in the United States. In the early s, an average of 4 million people got chickenpox, 10, to 13, were hospitalized, and to died each year. Chickenpox vaccine became available in the United States in Each year, more than 3. Shows images of chickenpox in unvaccinated people and chickenpox in vaccinated people also called breakthrough chickenpox or breakthrough varicella.
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What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a highly contagious illness caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), a type of herpes virus. It is often a mild illness, characterized by an itchy rash on the face, scalp and trunk with pink spots and tiny fluid-filled blisters that dry and become scabs four to five days later.
Chickenpox consists of an itchy, red rash that breaks out on the face, scalp, chest, back and, to a lesser extent, arms and legs. The spots quickly fill with a clear fluid, rupture and then turn crusty. Chickenpox is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes an itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters. Chickenpox is highly contagious to people who haven't had the disease or been vaccinated against it.
Today, a vaccine is available that protects children against chickenpox. The chickenpox vaccine is a safe, effective way to prevent chickenpox and its possible complications. The itchy blister rash caused by chickenpox infection appears 10 to 21 days after exposure to the virus and usually lasts about five to 10 days.
Other signs and symptoms, which may appear one to two days before the rash, include:. 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 appears, and the virus remains contagious until all broken blisters have crusted over. The disease is generally mild in healthy children. In severe cases, the rash can cover the entire body, and lesions may form in the throat, eyes, and mucous membranes of the urethra, anus and vagina.
If you think you or your child might have chickenpox, consult your doctor. He or she usually can diagnose chickenpox by examining the rash and considering other symptoms. Your doctor can also prescribe medications to lessen the severity of chickenpox and treat complications, if necessary. To avoid infecting others in the waiting room, call ahead for an appointment and mention that you think you or your child may have chickenpox. Chickenpox infection is caused by a virus.
It can spread through direct contact with the rash. It can also spread when a person with the chickenpox coughs or sneezes and you inhale the air droplets. Your risk of becoming infected with the varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox is higher if you haven't already had chickenpox or if you haven't had the chickenpox vaccine.
It's especially important for people who work in child care or school settings to be vaccinated. Most people who have had chickenpox or have been vaccinated against chickenpox are immune to chickenpox. If you've been vaccinated and still get chickenpox, symptoms are often milder, with fewer blisters and mild or no fever.
A few people can get chickenpox more than once, but this is rare. Chickenpox is normally a mild disease. But it can be serious and can lead to complications including:. Low birth weight and limb abnormalities are more common among babies born to women who are infected with chickenpox early in their pregnancy. When a mother is infected with chickenpox in the week before birth or within a couple of days after giving birth, her baby has a higher risk of developing a serious, life-threatening infection.
If you're pregnant and not immune to chickenpox, talk to your doctor about the risks to you and your unborn child. If you've had chickenpox, you're at risk of a complication called shingles. The varicella-zoster virus remains in your nerve cells after the skin infection has healed.
Many years later, the virus can reactivate and resurface as shingles — a painful cluster of short-lived blisters. The virus is more likely to reappear in older adults and people who have weakened immune systems.
The pain of shingles can persist long after the blisters disappear. This is called postherpetic neuralgia and can be severe. Two shingles vaccines Zostavax and Shingrix are available for adults who have had chickenpox.
Shingrix is approved and recommended for people age 50 and older, including those who've previously received Zostavax. Zostavax isn't recommended until age Shingrix is preferred over Zostavax. The chickenpox varicella vaccine is the best way to prevent chickenpox.
Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC estimate that the vaccine provides complete protection from the virus for nearly 98 percent of people who receive both of the recommended doses. When the vaccine doesn't provide complete protection, it significantly lessens the severity of chickenpox. Young children. In the United States, children receive two doses of the varicella vaccine — the first between ages 12 and 15 months and the second between ages 4 and 6 years — as part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule.
The vaccine can be combined with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, but for some children between the ages of 12 and 23 months, the combination may increase the risk of fever and seizure from the vaccine. Discuss the pros and cons of combining the vaccines with your child's doctor. Unvaccinated adults who've never had chickenpox and are at high risk of exposure. This includes health care workers, teachers, child care employees, international travelers, military personnel, adults who live with young children and all women of childbearing age.
Adults who've never had chickenpox or been vaccinated usually receive two doses of the vaccine, four to eight weeks apart. If you don't remember whether you've had chickenpox or the vaccine, a blood test can determine your immunity. Talk to your doctor if you're unsure about your need for the vaccine. If you're planning on becoming pregnant, consult with your doctor to make sure you're up to date on your vaccinations before conceiving a child.
Parents typically wonder whether vaccines are safe. Since the chickenpox vaccine became available, studies have consistently found it safe and effective. Side effects are generally mild and include redness, soreness, swelling and, rarely, small bumps at the site of the shot. Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission. Don't delay your care at Mayo Clinic Schedule your appointment now for safe in-person care.
This content does not have an English version. This content does not have an Arabic version. Overview Chickenpox Open pop-up dialog box Close. Chickenpox Chickenpox consists of an itchy, red rash that breaks out on the face, scalp, chest, back and, to a lesser extent, arms and legs.
Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic. Share on: Facebook Twitter. Show references Chickenpox varicella. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed Jan. Varicella chickenpox. New York, N. Papadakis MA, et al. Viral and rickettsial infections. Types of chickenpox vaccine. Longo DL, et al. Varicella-zoster virus infections. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine.
Chickenpox varicella. Merck Manual Professional Version. Stone K, et al. Herpes zoster shingles. Rochester, Minn. Tosh PK expert opinion. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Related Chickenpox. Mayo Clinic Marketplace Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.