Chickenpox is a very infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It mainly affects kids, but adults can get it, too. The telltale sign of chickenpox is a super-itchy skin rash with red blisters. Over the course of several days, the blisters pop and start to leak. Then they crust and scab over before finally healing.
Symptoms appear within 10 to 21 days after you’ve been in contact with someone who has the virus. Most people recover in about 2 weeks. It is generally mild, especially in children. But in severe cases, the blisters can spread to your nose, mouth, eyes, and even genitals.
Varicella vaccine is a vaccine that protects against chickenpox. One dose of vaccine prevents 95% of moderate disease and 100% of severe disease. Two doses of vaccine are more effective than one.
Who Gets It?
Children under age 2 are most at risk for chickenpox. In fact, 90% of all cases occur in young children. But older kids and adults can get it, too. You’re more at risk for chickenpox if you:
- Haven’t had the virus before
- Haven’t been vaccinated for it
- Work in a school or child care facility
- Live with children
Symptoms of Chickenpox
The itchy blister rash caused by chickenpox infection appears 10 – 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:
- Loss of appetite
- Tiredness and a general feeling of being unwell (malaise)
Once the chickenpox rash appears, it goes through three phases:
- Raised pink or red bumps, which break out over several days.
- Small fluid-filled blisters (vesicles), which form in about one day and then break and leak.
- Crusts and scabs, which cover the broken blisters and take several more days to heal.
Complications of Chickenpox
It is normally a mild disease. But it can be serious and can lead to complications including:
- Bacterial infections of the skin, soft tissues, bones, joints, or bloodstream.
- Inflammation of the brain.
- Toxic shock syndrome.
- Reye’s syndrome in children and teenagers who take aspirin during chickenpox.