Chickenpox is a mild disease that most children catch at some point.


Chickenpox spreads in tiny droplets of saliva and nasal mucus coughed out by an infected person. The virus is already in these droplets before any rash appears which is why it spreads so fast.


Chickenpox is most common between the ages of two and eight.


You are infectious from about two days before the rash appears until roughly five days after. It takes 10-21 days for the symptoms to show after you’ve come into contact with the virus.


The chickenpox rash is made up of lots of red blisters, which burst and then scab over.


You are infectious until the last blister has crusted over, so children with chickenpox should be kept off school or nursery until this point (around 5 – 6 days).


At any time later in life, but usually when you’re an adult, the virus can come back causing shingles.  You can only get shingles if you have previously had chickenpox.
If a woman comes into contact with chickenpox or shingles when pregnant, there’s no problem if she’s had it before.


If the woman hasn’t had chickenpox before or is unsure if she has, she should see her GP to be tested for it. If this shows she hasn’t had chickenpox and has no antibodies, then chickenpox antibodies can be given.
Chickenpox in children usually starts with a slight fever and feeling unwell, sometimes with mild flu-like symptoms. A rash then appears in patches, usually behind the ears, under the arms, on the chest and stomach, and the arms and legs.
The rash is made up of small, itchy, red spots that turn into fluid-filled blisters within a few hours. They then dry out to form scabs in a day or two. Patches of spots continue to appear for up to six days.

Chickenpox is normally a very mild illness in children.


Chickenpox usually clears up without treatment. There are some things you can do to ease the symptoms.


It is important to see your GP if your child has an uncontrolled temperature or is under 1 year.