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What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a disease that usually occurs during childhood and is easily spread. By adulthood, more than 90 percent of Americans have had chickenpox.

The disease is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Spread of chickenpox occurs from person-to-person by direct contact or through the air by coughing or sneezing.

What are the symptoms of chickenpox?

Symptoms are usually mild among children, but may be life-threatening to adults and people of any age with weakened immune systems.

Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue and irritability 1 to 2 days before the rash begins
  • Itchy rash on the trunk, face, scalp, under the armpits, on the upper arms and legs, and inside the mouth that appears in several crops. The rash starts as flat red spots and progresses to raised red bumps that then become blisters.
  • Feeling ill
  • Decreased appetite

How is Chickenpox Treated?

Treatment for chickenpox may include:

  • Acetaminophen (to reduce fever). Children with chickenpox should NEVER be given aspirin.
  • Calamine lotion (to relieve itchiness)
  • Antiviral drug acyclovir (for severe cases)
  • Bed rest
  • Increased fluid intake (to prevent dehydration)
  • Cool baths with baking soda or Aveeno lotion (to relieve itching)